MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Genevieve Kanter, PhD Assistant Professor
Department of Health Management and Policy
Drexel University Dornsife School of Public Health
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Response: We were interested in the exposure of patients to doctors who accept industry payments. Previous research on physician payments has focused on the percentage of doctors who accepted payments, but these estimates can give a partial or misleading picture of the reach of industry payments in relation to the typical patient. No studies had previously taken a population-based approach to estimate the reach of industry payments.
We conducted a nationally representative survey of 3542 Americans. We asked respondents about their awareness of industry payments and if they knew whether their own doctor had received an industry payment. We also asked them to identify the doctor they had visited most frequently in the previous 12 months and linked this information to Open Payments, a government website that reports payments made to doctors by prescription drug and device manufacturers.
We found that 65%, or almost two-thirds, of patients had seen–in the past 12 months–a physician who had received an industry payment. For some specialties, patient contact with doctors who had industry contact was much higher; 77% of patients who saw an obstetrician/gynecologist visited a doctor who had accepted payments, and 85% of patients who saw an orthopedic surgeon visited a doctor who had accepted payments.
At the same time, very few people knew whether their own doctor had received payments; only 5% of respondents reported knowing whether their doctor had received an industry payment.
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: Most Americans are seeing doctors who have received an industry payment in the last year, but very very few people are aware of it.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Response: We should look into the barriers to patient awareness of and knowledge about industry payments. My co-authors and I are also looking into how the public disclosure of industry payments–now required by the Physician Payments Sunshine Act–has affected patients and the patient-doctor relationship, and how public disclosure has affected the behavior of doctors.
MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Response: We are grateful to the Greenwall Foundation for its support of this research. My co-authors and I have no financial conflicts to disclose.
MedicalResearch.com: Thank you for your contribution to the MedicalResearch.com community.
The Journal of General Internal Medicine is a peer-reviewed medical journal established in 1986 and covering internal medicine in general. It is published by Springer and is the official journal of the Society of General Internal Medicine.
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