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Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology
Volume 21, Issue 3, Pages 169-175
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2007/945630
Original Article

Impact of Pharmaceutical Industry Versus University Sponsorship on Survey Response: A Randomized Trial among Canadian Hepatitis C Care Providers

Robert P Myers, Abdel Aziz M Shaheen, and Samuel S Lee

Liver Unit, Division of Gastroenterology, Department of Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Received 29 June 2006; Accepted 16 July 2006

Copyright © 2007 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Surveys originating from universities appear to have higher response rates than those from commercial sources. In light of the growing scrutiny placed on physician-industry relations, the present study aimed to determine the impact of the pharmaceutical industry versus university sponsorship on response to a postal survey completed by Canadian hepatitis C virus (HCV) care providers.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: In the present controlled trial, 229 physicians and nurses involved in HCV treatment were randomly assigned to receive a survey with sponsorship from a pharmaceutical company or university. The primary outcome was the proportion of completed surveys returned. The secondary outcomes included the response rate after the first mailing and the number of days taken to respond.

RESULTS: One hundred fifteen participants were randomly assigned to receive the pharmaceutical industry survey and 114 were assigned to receive the university survey. The final response rate was 72.9% (167 of 229), which did not differ between the industry and university groups (RR=0.91; 95% CI 0.78 to 1.07). Nurses (OR=2.20; 95% CI 1.08 to 4.48) and participants from an academic centre (OR=3.14; 95% CI 1.64 to 6.00) were more likely to respond. The response rate after the first mailing (RR=0.85; 95% CI 0.68 to 1.07) and the median number of days taken to respond (21 days in both groups; P=0.20) did not differ between the industry and university groups.

CONCLUSIONS: Pharmaceutical industry sponsorship does not appear to negatively impact response rates to a postal survey completed by Canadian HCV care providers.