Among all doctors, pediatricians had less favorable attitudes toward industry, while non-attending doctors were more positive about receiving meals, textbooks and medication samples, the study authors noted.
Mount Sinai School of Medicine consortium has a policy that bans or limits marketing-related interactions between physicians and industry, Korenstein pointed out.
Yet, only 54.2 percent of the doctors were familiar with the policy. Those unfamiliar with the policy were more positive about such interactions, the researchers found.
Korenstein said that most such policies ban the payment of gifts, meals and travel expenses, even seemingly benign gifts such as logo pens and pads, she said. "I do think they are potentially influential," she noted.
"In addition, there is evidence showing that patients perceive that their physicians are influenced by even small things like pens and mugs," Korenstein explained.
But in some areas of medicine there is no clear line between when a relationship is collaborative and when it is marketing, Korenstein said.
"The harder things for surgeons are things like the development of new devices, because it involves collaboration with the company -- and I don't have an answer where to draw the line there," she said. "Those are the much more challenging issues."
Moreover, while most patients don't seem to mind getting medication samples from their doctor, "there is evidence that samples are influential in the way doctors practice," Korenstein stated.
The bottom line for Korenstein is that doctors need to become more aware of these potential conflicts of interest.
"Physicians need to continue to take action, so that attitudes can catch up with the attitudes of the rest of the country in terms of the government and the public. Increasingly,
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