According to a national survey of 800 primary care physicians conducted by Pri-Med Institute, Boston, almost three-quarters of physicians who participated said that commercial support of CME by pharmaceutical companies is a good thing. Just 8 percent said they were less likely to attend a CME program that is underwritten by pharma funds, and only 10 percent viewed industry support as “negative.” Regardless of their feelings, an overwhelming 86 percent said whether a program is supported by pharma funds or not doesn't factor into their decision to attend.

“We wanted to better understand what physicians' perceptions were of the role of commercial support in CME,” says Anne Goodrich, director of research at the Pri-Med Institute. “Essentially, they recognize that commercial support is a part of this industry, and they appreciate the opportunities made available to them as a result of commercial support.”

In addition, the study found that half of the respondents prefer live conferences for their CME, and more than 33 percent of the CME credits these physicians earned were obtained through live events. They like to stick close to home: Two-thirds of the physicians surveyed preferred to get their CME within 200 miles of their practice. But they don't want to stay too close to home: Just 10 percent put Web-based CME activities at the top of their lists. Goodrich says that Pri-Med, which is launching online supplements to its CME programs, believes that while nothing will replace face-to-face meetings, “the convenience of online programs as a supplement to other activities will be a welcome addition.”

Many of these findings mirror MM's exclusive research into physician CME preferences: See cover story on page 24.