Chinese physician perceptions regarding industry support of continuing medical education programs: a cross-sectional survey

Christopher R. Stephenson, Qi Qian, Paul S. Mueller, Cathy D. Schleck, Jayawant N. Mandrekar, Thomas J. Beckman, Christopher M. Wittich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background: Industry funding in continuing medical education has been extensively studied in the USA. Although continuing medical education is also a requirement for Chinese physicians, little is known about Chinese physician perceptions of industry support in continuing medical education. Objective: We aim to determine perceptions regarding industry support for CME among Chinese physicians at a large CME course, examine potential associations between Chinese physicians’ perceptions and their demographic characteristics, and compare Chinese and US physicians’ perceptions of industry support for CME. Design: We performed a cross-sectional survey of physicians at a nephrology continuing medical education conference in China. All participants received a previously published, anonymous survey consisting of 4 items, with questions asked in English and Mandarin Chinese. Responses were compared with those of a previous cohort in the USA. Results: The response rate was 24% (128/541). Most respondents were nephrologists (112/126, 89%), women (91/128, 71%), and aged 20 to 40 years (79/127, 62%). Most respondents preferred industry-supported continuing medical education (84/123, 68%) or had no preference (33/123, 27%). More clinicians than clinical researchers supported industry offsetting costs (76.9% vs 58.3%; P = .03). Almost half of participants (58/125, 46%) stated that industry-supported continuing medical education was biased in support of industry. Compared with US physicians, Chinese physicians were more likely to believe, or had no opinion, that industry-supported courses were biased (67.2% vs 47.0%; P < .001). Conclusions: Chinese continuing medical education participants preferred industry-sponsored continuing medical education and were strongly in favor of industry offsetting costs, but almost half believed that such education was biased in favor of supporting companies. Concern for bias was higher among Chinese than US physicians. Given participants’ concerns, further study examining industry bias in Chinese continuing medical education is recommended. Abbreviations: CME: Continuing medical education; US: USA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1694308
JournalMedical education online
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020


  • China
  • Continuing medical education
  • continuous professional development
  • ethics
  • industry funding
  • international

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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