Background. Previous research found that adding a single piece of quantitative information about prescription drug benefits to direct-to-consumer (DTC) ads helps consumers understand how well the drug works. However, drug information often includes quantitative information on multiple benefit outcomes and risks. Thus, we examined whether consumer understanding was similarly improved when DTC television ads include varying amounts of quantitative information. Methods. We randomly assigned participants (945 Internet panelists ≥ 60 years old) to view 1 of 9 fictitious prescription drug television ads that varied the presentation of quantitative information for benefits (none, single outcome, 2 outcomes) and risks (none, 1 risk category, 3 risk categories) and then measured gist and verbatim recall/estimation and drug perceptions. Results. Adding a single benefit outcome and a single risk category replicated past results. Compared with an ad containing no quantitative information, presenting 2 benefit outcomes and multiple risk categories increased gist and verbatim recall and affected drug perceptions. Compared with presenting a single benefit outcome, presenting 2 benefit outcomes increased verbatim recall for the second outcome but decreased verbatim recall for the first outcome. Likewise, compared with presenting a single risk category, presenting multiple risk categories increased gist and verbatim recall for the multiple risk categories but decreased gist recall for a concept more closely associated with the single risk category. Adding multiple risk categories decreased risk perceptions even more than did the single risk category. Limitations. This study may have limited generalizability because it examined an ad for only 1 medical condition. Conclusions. There are tradeoffs to adding multiple quantitative benefit outcomes in DTC ads. However, presenting multiple quantitative risk categories helps consumers better understand a drug's risks.
The effect of including quantitative information on multiple endpoints in direct-to-consumer prescription drug television advertisements
Sullivan, H. W., O'Donoghue, A. C., Lynch, M., Johnson, M., Davis, C., & Rupert, D. J. (2019). The effect of including quantitative information on multiple endpoints in direct-to-consumer prescription drug television advertisements. Medical Decision Making, 39(8), 975-985. https://doi.org/10.1177/0272989X19875946