ABSTRACT: The Consequences of Diminishing Industry Support on the Independent Education Landscape: An Evidence-Based Analysis of the Perceived and Realistic Impact on Professional Development and Patient Care Among Oncologists.
In recent years, commercial funding for continuing medical education (CME) has dropped significantly. Yet, little has been written about how this might affect CME in oncology, a field in which new drugs and advances emerge at a rapid pace. This study examines the role oncologists and oncology fellows say that CME plays in their ongoing professional development and their attitudes about the potential and realistic impact upon both the dissemination of medical information and the impact on patient care if commercial support were removed from CME. The study is based upon a national survey of 368 oncology clinicians (283 oncologists and 85 oncology fellows). Respondents indicated that CME is an important part of their ongoing professional development. The majority of oncologists (90 %) and oncology fellows (78 %) “agreed” or “strongly agreed” that commercial support may be more necessary for oncology than for other specialties due to the rate at which cancer therapies are introduced. Respondents felt loss of commercial support would impact cost, format, and availability of oncology CME programs. Half of oncologists thought eliminating commercial support for CME would have a negative impact on application of new therapies in oncology. Yet, both oncologists and oncology fellows were reluctant to claim the removal of commercial support would negatively affect the practice of evidence-based medicine, patient outcomes, or patient safety. A possible explanation of this apparent contradiction is found in the social sciences literature.