Risks, Benefits and DTC - An Analysis of Information Formats

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Conference Proceeding
Australia and New Zealand Marketing Academy Conference 2008: Marketing: Shifting the Focus from Mainstream to Offbeat, 2008, pp. 1 - 8
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Critics of direct to consumer prescription medicine advertising (DTC) claim it is unbalanced because benefit information features more prominently than risk information, and that it thus fails to meet the high standards of social responsibility called for in regulatory codes. We used respondent conditioning theory to examine whether variations in risk information format could improve recall of benefits, side effects and contra-indications in print DTC advertisements. A best-worst study confirmed striking differences in preference for varied information formats, while a second study found that visual heuristics increased recall of both risk and benefit information. The findings question marketers reluctance to provide easily accessible risk information and suggest prominent drug information panels may discharge manufacturers social responsibilities while simultaneously improving the effectiveness of their promotions.
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