Meeting Highlights: How Partnerships Between Academic Health Centers and the Health Industry May Affect Medical Decision-Making

    • October 6, 2008

The Association of American Medical Colleges and Baylor College of Medicine sponsored a symposium to highlight the latest neurobiological and behavioral evidence demonstrating the effects of gifts, favors, and reciprocal relationships on human choices and behaviors. The evidence provides a scientific basis for reevaluating historic patterns of interaction between academic medicine and the pharmaceutical and device industries and discussion of the latest scientific research documenting the role played by unconscious influences that affect behavior and may lead to unwitting conflicts of interest.

The symposium presentations suggested that current mechanisms for ensuring objectivity in medical research, education and practice may not adequately take into account the biological and behavioral processes at work in the human brain/mind that influence judgment.

Key Results

  • The meeting, entitled "Symposium on the Scientific Basis of Influence and Reciprocity," was held in Washington on June 12, 2007.

    • The meeting was attended by approximately 85 individuals, from approximately 50 institutions and organizations. Attendees included leaders from the academic medical community, federal policy-makers and regulatory officials and representatives of various educational and scientific organizations.
    • The meeting featured five scholarly presentations, questions from attendees and five formal responses from representatives from the fields of academic medicine and ethics.
  • The Association of American Medical Colleges completed a meeting report entitled, "The Scientific Basis of Influence and Reciprocity: A Symposium."

    • The association printed 10,000 copies of the report for distribution. As of March 2008, approximately 5,000 copies had been distributed.
    • Association representatives have presented findings from the meeting to the presidents/chancellors of the Association of American Universities, the Council on Governmental Relations and several constituent subgroups of the association.