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Sacrifice Makes Industry Gifts Seem More Acceptable

Last Updated: September 14, 2010.

Residents who are reminded of the sacrifices they made to attain their medical education tend to rate the acceptability of industry-sponsored gifts higher than those who are not reminded, according to research published in the Sept. 15 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

TUESDAY, Sept. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Residents who are reminded of the sacrifices they made to attain their medical education tend to rate the acceptability of industry-sponsored gifts higher than those who are not reminded, according to research published in the Sept. 15 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Sunita Sah, and George Loewenstein, Ph.D., of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, randomly assigned 301 physicians to participate in a survey that asked about sacrifices they had made during training and then about the acceptability of receiving gifts from industry (sacrifice-reminders survey); a survey that asked the same sacrifice questions, then suggested rationalizations for gift acceptance based on sacrifice, and finally asked questions on the acceptability of gifts (suggested-rationalization survey); and a control survey, which presented questions about the acceptability of gifts before asking questions on sacrifices or suggesting a rationalization.

The researchers found that reminding physicians of the sacrifices they had made led to gifts being considered more acceptable: 21.7 percent in the control group versus 47.5 percent in the sacrifice-reminders group. Though residents tended not to agree with suggested rationalization for gift acceptance, exposure to that idea increased perceived acceptability of gifts to 60.3 percent.

"Providing resident physicians with reminders of sacrifices increased the perceived acceptability of industry-sponsored gifts. Including a rationalization statement further increased gift acceptability," the authors write.

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