The Hidden Curriculum: Medical Students’ Changing Opinions toward the Pharmaceutical Industry

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BackgroundAuthorities suggest academic medical centers eliminate conflicts of interest. The authors evaluated medical students’ opinions and knowledge of the pharmaceutical industry.MethodAn anonymous 20-item questionnaire was administered to medical students from four different medical schools; 15 items addressed opinions, and five items were free-response knowledge questions. Results were analyzed by Fisher exact test.ResultsAuthors received 667 responses from the schools. Sixty-five percent of clinical students believed accepting gifts was appropriate; 28% of preclinical students believed it was appropriate (P < .001). Knowledge was the same for clinical and preclinical students.ConclusionsClinical students were more favorable toward receiving gifts than were preclinical students, yet there was no difference in their knowledge of the industry. Increased formal and informal education about the pharmaceutical industry is necessary during the clinical years.

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