Awareness and attitudes of the Lebanese population with regard to physician–pharmaceutical company interaction: a survey study
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OBJECTIVE: To assess the awareness and attitudes of the general public in Lebanon regarding the interactions between physicians and pharmaceutical companies. SETTING: Primary healthcare clinics and shopping malls in the Greater Beirut Area. PARTICIPANTS: 263 participants completed the questionnaire, of whom 62% were female and 38% were male. Eligible participants were Arabic-speaking or English-speaking adults (age≥18 years) residing in Lebanon for at least 5 years. PRIMARY AND SECONDARY OUTCOME MEASURES: Awareness, attitudes and beliefs of the general public. RESULTS: 263 out of 295 invited individuals (89% completion rate) completed the questionnaire. While the majority of participants were aware of pharmaceutical company presence (or absence) in physicians' offices (range of 71-76% across questions), smaller percentages were aware of gift-related practices of physicians (range of 26-69% across questions). 40% thought that the acceptance of small gifts or meals by physicians is wrong/unethical. The percentage of participants reporting lower trust in physicians due to their participation in various pharmaceutical company-related activities ranged from 12% to 45% (the highest percentage being for large gifts). Participants who reported receiving free medication samples were significantly more likely to consider physicians' acceptance of small gifts as 'not a problem' than 'unethical' (OR=1.53; p=0.044). CONCLUSIONS: Participants in our survey were generally more aware of pharmaceutical company presence (or absence) in physicians' offices than of gift-related practices of physicians. While the level of trust was not affected for the majority of participants for various types of interactions, it was affected the most for accepting large gifts.
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