Sources of drug information and their influence on the prescribing behaviour of doctors in a teaching hospital in Ibadan, Nigeria
Background: Pharmaceutical drug promotion is a means of informing health professionals about new drugs. The approach is often times unethical and inappropriate and may promote irrational prescribing. Dearth of information on impact of pharmaceutical drug promotion on prescribing behaviour of doctors in developing African countries has necessitated this study. We therefore aimed to determine the sources of drug information for doctors working in a teaching hospital in Nigeria and to assess the self-reported impact of the sources on their prescribing behaviour. Methods: A total of 163 doctors working at the University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan in Nigeria were evaluated with a questionnaire for their demographics and sources of drug information. For doctors who relied on drug promotion, they were asked to self-report and self-rate their opinion on extent of interactions with pharmaceutical companies as well as how such interactions had impacted on their prescribing behaviour. Apart from the demographics, each question was evaluated with a typical five-level Likert item. Data analyses were with simple descriptive statistics. Results: Of the 400 doctors working at UCH, only 40.8% participated in the study. Drug information was sourced from colleagues (161, 98.8%), reference books (158, 96.9%), pharmaceutical sales representatives-PSRs (152, 93.2%), promotion materials (151, 92.6%), scientific papers/journals/internet (149, 91.4%), and drug promotion forum/product launches (144, 88.3%). Each source was highly utilized but there was no wide variation in their pattern of use. According to the self-report of over a half of the respondents, PSRs was an accurate and reliable drug information resource; PSRs increased their awareness of the promoted drugs; and their prescribing behaviours were influenced by information from PSRs. Conclusion: Respondents tend to rely on a broad range of drug information resources which include potentially inappropriate resources such as PSRs. Since this study was based on self-report, the influence of drug information resources reported by the respondents on their prescribing behaviour may have been underestimated. Measures should be taken to minimize interactions between PSRs and the respondents.
Key words: Drug, prescription, information source, promotion, pharmaceutical company, influence, doctors, Nigeria