Then and now: Examining how consumer communication and attitudes of direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical advertising have changed in the last decade


This study examines changes over a 10-year period in consumer reports of communication with health care providers about direct-to-consumer advertised (DTCA) medications. Two rounds of survey data were collected in 2003 and 2012 using repeated cross-sectional procedures to examine consumer willingness to discuss DTCA medications, content and tone of those conversations, and attitudes about the advertisements. In total, 472 surveys were analyzed. Generally, we found physician"“patient conversations, attitudes, and behaviors regarding DTCA have changed. Consumers in 2012 reported talking significantly less about the names of the advertised drug, comparing the advertised drug with their current medication, and sharing general information than consumers in 2003. Attitudes toward the advertisements were significantly more negative in 2012 compared to 2003. Of those who specifically asked for a prescription, the proportion of patients who received the prescription was significantly lower in 2012, despite research suggesting increased rates of prescriptions. These results are interpreted in light of previous research about the lack of research examining the actual communication between physicians and patients on this topic. Limitations of the study are provided along with directions for future research about DTCA and physician"“patient communication.



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Health Communication