Despite increased demand for disclosure of physician and researcher financial ties (FTs) to industry, little is known about patients’, research participants’, or journal readers' attitudes toward FTs.
We systematically reviewed original, quantitative studies of patients’, research participants’, or journal readers' views about FTs to pharmaceutical and medical device companies. The MEDLINE, Scopus, and Web of Knowledge databases were searched for English-language studies containing original, quantitative data on attitudes toward FTs. We screened 6561 citations and retrieved 244 potentially eligible abstracts. Of these, 20 met inclusion criteria.
Eleven studies assessed FTs and perceptions of quality. In clinical care, patients believed FTs decreased the quality and increased the cost of care. In research, FTs affected perceptions of study quality. In 2 studies, readers' perceptions of journal article quality decreased after disclosure of FTs. Eight studies assessed the acceptability of FTs. Patients were more likely to view personal gifts to physicians as unacceptable, compared with professional gifts. In 6 of the 10 studies that assessed the importance of disclosure, most patients and research participants believed FTs should be disclosed; in the other 4, approximately one-quarter believed FTs should be disclosed. Among the 7 studies assessing willingness to participate in research, approximately one-quarter of participants reported less willingness after disclosure of FTs.
Patients believe that FTs influence professional behavior and should be disclosed. Patients, physicians, and research participants believe FTs decrease the quality of research evidence, and, for some, knowledge of FTs would affect willingness to participate in research.