There is growing concern from advisory and advocacy groups in Australia, as well as in other countries, regarding the influence of the pharmaceutical industry on the prescribing habits of doctors.1,2 Concern has centred around marketing practices that directly influence doctors’ prescribing behaviour,3,4 as well as pharmaceutical promotions that directly target consumers.5,6
In Australia, where direct to consumer
advertising of prescription medicines is
prohibited, pharmaceutical companies
can sponsor disease awareness
advertising targeting consumers. This
study examined the impact of disease
awareness advertising exposure on
older women’s reported behavioural
Women were approached in a
shopping centre and randomly
assigned mock advertisements for two
health conditions. Disease information
and sponsors were manipulated.
Two hundred and forty-one women
responded to 466 advertisements.
Almost half reported an intention to ask
their doctor for a prescription or referral
as a result of seeing the advertisement,
but more reported they would talk to
their doctor and ask about treatments
and tests. Participants were more
likely to report an intention to ask for
prescriptions if they perceived the health
condition to be severe and themselves
susceptible or if they had viewed
advertisements containing limited
information on the disease.
Disease awareness advertising may
stimulate demand for prescription
medicine products. This has serious
implications for general practitioners
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