There is a need for greater linkage between research, interventions and evaluation is needed. Those planning interventions need to draw on previous research for designing and targeting their programmes. For example, previous reviews have suggested that some doctors rely heavily on promotion, and that their prescribing is also sometimes irrational. Interventions targeted at these doctors are likely to have a greater impact than those targeted at doctors in general, or particularly interventions which include volunteers only (likely to be those who are already sympathetic to rational prescribing messages). Interventions also need to be evaluated, and these evaluations need to be published so that others can learn from them. Reasonable follow-up times are needed, to show whether the effects of interventions persist over time.
Studies are also urgently needed comparing the effect of different regulatory frameworks. Najman et al.’s study205 was the only one included here which did this. Governments and others introducing policies to regulate promotional activities need good evidence of the advantages and drawbacks of different systems.