The interpretation of research funding disclosures by physicians

Posted by Peter Morris on October 19, 2012

This is a very interesting study in which 500 board certified internists were presented with abstracts that described a clinical trial of three hypothetical drugs. The trials had a high, a medium or a low level of quality and each report had included a disclosure about the source of funding, either from a pharmaceutical company, NIH or neither. There was a 54% response rate amongst the physicians asked to evaluate the abstracts. They were asked about their willingness to prescribe drugs based on the information they had received. It appeared that physicians were less willing to prescribe drugs tested in low quality trials than those tested in medium quality trials and they would be more willing to prescribe drugs that have looked good in a high quality trial. Furthermore if the trial was funded by industry this led physicians to downgrade the quality of the trial and also they were less willing to prescribe the hypothetical drugs. Indeed it appeared that physicians were half as willing to prescribe drugs from studies in industry sponsored trials compared to those in NIH funded trials.

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