A survey recently published in Archives of Surgery (subscription required) suggests that at least as recently as 2008, "pharmascold" propaganda had had very little impact on physicians' attitudes towards receiving gifts from Pharma.
Dr. Deborah Korenstein and colleagues from Mt. Sinai in New York set out to do a survey that looked at various specialties and that also compared trainees (both med students and residents) with attending physicians. They also explicitly asked about both the pharmaceutical and the device industries, whereas most previous surveys had focused solely upon the former. As a convenience sample they used departments in Mt. Sinai-affiliated hospitals, tilting the total sample toward a more academic environment. They achieved a 67% response rate.
Overall they found favorable attitudes toward interacting with drug and device companies and taking what they offered. Similar to previous surveys, they found that physicians were more leery of the more expensive gifts, more accepting of gifts that seemed explicitly related to patient care, and convinced that their colleagues were easily swayed by gifts much more than they themselves were.
What might be viewed as new findings included a generally higher level of acceptance among the trainees, despite the authors' hypothesis that the younger generation might have been more swayed by recent anti-Pharma publications and guidelines. Physicians familiar with the strict guidelines limiting Pharma gifts and contacts also expressed more critical attitudes, suggesting that these guidelines do exert some influence. Finally, the major specialty-related difference was a generally higher level of acceptance of gifts among all surgical specialties and a lower level among pediatricians.
It's worth noting that this survey was conducted in 2008, before the inauguration of the voluntary PhRMA code of conduct banning a number of gift items in January 2009. One would be curious as to how numbers derived after that major policy change would compare. Also, given the biased sample which would seem to favor a more academic type of environment, it seems disappointing (from the pharmascold pespective) that attitudes toward acceptance of gifts were so favorable; one would assume these attitudes would have been even more favorable if measured among regular community practitioners.
Korenstein D, Keyhani S, Ross JS. Physician attitudes toward industry: a view across the specialties. Archives of Surgery 145:570-577, June 2010.