Mental health nursing students' relationships with the pharmaceutical industry

ASHMORE, R. J., BANKS, D. and CARVER, N. (2007). Mental health nursing students' relationships with the pharmaceutical industry. Nurse Education Today, 27 (6), 551-560.

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INTRODUCTION: The medical profession's relationship with the pharmaceutical industry (PI) has come under increased scrutiny in recent years, however little is known on the subject in mental health nursing. AIMS: The study sought to investigate: (1) the frequency of contact between mental health nursing students and PI employees; (2) students' attitudes and beliefs about their relationship with the PI; (3) the range of 'gifts', promotional items and hospitality accepted or seen in clinical environments by students in a one year period; and (4) students' attitudes to 'gifts', promotional items and hospitality offered by the industry. METHOD: Employing a survey design, a 35-item questionnaire was distributed to 472 students at two universities in the UK. Data were analysed from 347 respondents by means of descriptive statistics and simple content analysis. RESULTS: The findings suggest that students have significant contact with the industry through one-to-one meetings with pharmaceutical representatives (PRs) and by attending events giving information on specific drugs or general mental health issues. Students also identified a number of benefits (e.g. receiving "up-to-date" information on new drugs) and problems (e.g. the potential influence exerted on practitioners to use their drugs) arising out of this contact. Most students (79.8%) had accepted some form of 'gift' from the industry but few (11.5%) believed it was unacceptable to do so. The presence of promotional items in the clinical environment was seen as advertising (84.4%) but few students (19.3%) believed clinical environment should be free of these items. Over half (57.1%) of the students believed that PRs did not always give unbiased information but thought that they and mental health nurses in general would be able to detect any bias. CONCLUSIONS: In parallel with medicine, the study has shown that the pharmaceutical industry has at least the potential to influence mental health nursing students. Within medicine this realisation has triggered a vigorous debate on how medical schools should respond to the promotional activities of the PI. We suggest this study goes some way to demonstrating there is a need for these issues to be debated in the education of mental health nurses.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Bias, Educational and drug seminars, Gifts and promotional items, Influence, Mental health nursing students, Pharmaceutical industry
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Centre for Health and Social Care Research
Identification Number:
Page Range: 551-560
Depositing User: Ann Betterton
Date Deposited: 04 Apr 2008
Last Modified: 19 Mar 2021 00:46

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