As part of the project, four reviews were produced based on some of the database material. These reviews were written to provide an overview of what is and is not known in four key areas:
Review 1. What attitudes do people (professional and lay) have to promotion?
Issues covered include attitudes to pharmaceutical company sales representatives, gifts and sponsorship of conferences. Attitudes of doctors, consumers and others to direct-to-consumer drug advertising are also reviewed. In addition, there are reviews of differences in doctors’ attitudes to promotion and whether they think that promotion affects their prescribing.
Review 2. What impact does pharmaceutical promotion have on attitudes and knowledge?
In addition to studies on the effect of promotion on attitudes and knowledge, this review looks at how much doctors report using promotion as a source of information (either for all drugs, or particularly for new drugs).
Review 3. What impact does pharmaceutical promotion have on behaviour?
This review looks at the evidence for several different possible effects of promotion on behaviour. These are the impact of promotion on individual prescribing behaviour, on overall drug sales, and on requests for formulary additions; the effect of direct-to-consumer drug advertising on consumers’ decisions, the effect of promotion on the content of continuing medical education (CME) courses, and the impact of industry funding on research outcomes.
Review 4. What interventions have been tried to counter promotional activities, and with what results?
This review reports on research on interventions to control or counter promotion, and the effects of such interventions. It is not a comprehensive review of interventions, because there are many descriptive reports on these in the database.
The purpose of the reviews was to allow users of the database to understand the research that has been done on promotion, the strengths and weaknesses of that research, and to suggest directions for future research. The reviews were lodged on the web site in mid-2003.