An Experimental Study of Quantitative Benefit Information in Direct-to-Consumer Advertisements for Prescription Drugs
Rupert, D., O'Donoghue, A., Chowdhury, D., Sullivan, H., Aikin, K., & Moultrie, R. (2011, October). An Experimental Study of Quantitative Benefit Information in Direct-to-Consumer Advertisements for Prescription Drugs. Presented at APHA 2011, Washington, DC.
Background: Direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising is a major source of consumer information on prescription drugs and is correlated with increased drug spending. However, DTC advertising does not always lead to appropriate treatment requests. Most ads provide limited, qualitative information on drug benefits and risks, and consumers consistently over-estimate drug efficacy. This study's purpose was to assess whether quantitative benefit information in DTC ads influences consumer knowledge, attitudes, and intentions related to drug decision-making.
Methods: We conducted an online experimental study with consumers (n=4,805) to test five numerical and four visual formats for presenting quantitative drug benefits in DTC ads. We recruited consumers with high cholesterol from an existing survey panel, provided Internet access if needed, randomly assigned them to view a print or television ad for a mock drug, and had them complete an online survey.
Results/Outcomes: The study results will highlight key aspects of ad recall, drug knowledge, drug perceptions, and behavioral intentions. First, we will report how well consumers recalled quantitative benefit information and which numerical and visual formats led to the greatest recollection. Second, we will examine whether the quantitative benefits distracted consumers from key information about the drug's indication and risks. Finally, we will highlight how quantitative benefits affected consumers' perceived efficacy and perceived risk of the drug and whether these perceptions led to different behavioral intentions.
Conclusions: This study will help determine if consumers can accurately recall and utilize quantitative benefit information in DTC drug advertisements, and if so, how this information might influence treatment decisions.