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Understanding why GPs see pharmaceutical representatives: a qualitative interview study

Prosser, H and Walley, T 2003, 'Understanding why GPs see pharmaceutical representatives: a qualitative interview study' , British Journal of General Practice, 53 (489) , pp. 305-311.

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Background: doctors are aware of the commercial bias in pharmaceutical representative information; nevertheless, such information is known to change doctors' prescribing, and augment irrational prescribing and prescribing costs. Aim: to explore GPs, reasons for receiving visits from pharmaceutical representatives. Design of study: qualitative study with semi-structured interviews. Setting: one hundred and seven general practitioners (GPs) in practices from two health authorities in the North West of England. Results: the main outcome measures of the study were: reasons for receiving/not receiving representative visits; advantages/disadvantages in receiving visits; and quality of representative-supplied information. Most GPs routinely see pharmaceutical representatives, because they bring new drug information speedily; they are convenient and accessible; and can be consulted with a saving of time and effort. Many GPs asserted they had the skills to critically appraise the evidence. Furthermore, the credibility and social characteristics of the representative were instrumental in shaping GPs' perceptions of representatives as legitimate information providers. GPs also received visits from representatives for reasons other than information acquisition. These reasons are congruent with personal selling techniques used in marketing communications. Conclusions: the study draws attention to the social and cultural contexts of GP-representative encounters and the way in which the acquisition of pharmacological information within the mercantile context of representative visits is legitimated. This highlights the need for doctors to critically appraise information supplied by representatives in relation to other information sources.

Item Type: Article
Themes: Health and Wellbeing
Schools: Schools > College of Health & Social Care
Schools > College of Health & Social Care > School of Nursing, Midwifery, Social Work & Social Sciences > Centre for Nursing, Midwifery, Social Work & Social Sciences Research
Journal or Publication Title: British Journal of General Practice
Publisher: Royal College of General Practitioners
Refereed: Yes
ISSN: 0960-1643
Related URLs:
Depositing User: H Prosser
Date Deposited: 05 Sep 2011 12:30
Last Modified: 29 Oct 2015 00:36

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