Date of Conferral



Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)


Health Services


Lawrence Fulton


Drug makers have developed numerous techniques to influence treatment choices. Almost no information exists regarding the pharmaceutical industry's influence on rheumatologists and how these pressures could affect patient care. This phenomenological research, conducted within the framework of social exchange theory, explored the lived experiences of rheumatologists regarding their interactions with agents of the pharmaceutical industry. A researcher-designed interview protocol was used to gather feedback from 10 rheumatologists regarding how interactions with agents of the pharmaceutical industry made them feel. Using horizonalization, meaningful statements made by rheumatologists were condensed into specific themes and patterns, which provided a composite summary of their experiences with agents of the pharmaceutical industry. The experiences of rheumatologists' interactions with drug manufacturing personnel provided insights about medication access and patient financial assistance. Other key themes from rheumatologists' feedback included relationships, respectfulness, value appraisal and credibility, and authority and oversight. Rheumatologists' preferences and animosities towards the pharmaceutical industry revealed potential opportunities to both improve and curtail specific activities. Such opportunities would allow rheumatologists and the pharmaceutical industry to increase equitable exchanges and facilitate the appropriate application of medical care for the greater society.