NEWS8 October 2009

Third of docs say Sunshine Act will put them off surveys

Government North America

US— Almost one third of physicians say they will be put off participating in market research studies if a law is passed requiring them to disclose all survey incentives worth more than $20 from drug or medical device companies .

Research by Market Probe and E-Rewards warns of “fundamental changes” to the way healthcare research is conducted if the Physician Payments Sunshine Act becomes law.

According to the research 91% of doctors surveyed list incentives or honoraria as one of the main reasons they participate in MR studies, alongside a desire to be ‘in the know’, to better understand patient needs and because they enjoy contributing ideas, among other factors.

Just over one third of the physicians questioned say they take part in market research studies more than once a month – but 32% said their participation would decrease if the Sunshine Act comes into force. A further 18% said they were not sure how the rules would affect their survey activity, while 50% said there would be no impact.

Up to an additional 20% of physicians say they may be persuaded to continue taking part in research if a charitable donation was offered in exchange for survey completion, a $75 contribution to the charity of their choice being the most popular option.

Study authors Madhunika Raghavan and Anne Jedraszczak of Market Probe write: “While it is not a perfect solution, this will lighten the impact of the Sunshine Act on physician sample, allowing for more broad participation and therefore the inclusion of better medical community representation in market research studies.”

Meanwhile, industry lobbyists continue to try and secure an exemption for research from the Sunshine Act. Meetings between researchers and federal legislators were held in late summer, co-ordinated by the Marketing Research Association. A vote on the bill in Senate is expected soon.

A note on the research
Market Probe and E-Rewards together executed a study of 272 physicians across the US to better understand their current market research participation and opinions of the Sunshine Act.  Physicians were recruited through two online panels as well as through direct mail sourced from the American Medical Association database.  Participants included 177 primary care physicians, 47 endocrinologists and 48 cardiologists.