Advertisement-induced prescription drug requests: patients' anticipated reactions to a physician who refuses

J Fam Pract. 1999 Jun;48(6):446-52.


Background: Drug manufacturers increasingly encourage patient prescription drug demand through the use of direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertisements. We describe patients' forecasts of their reactions if their doctor were to deny an advertisement-motivated drug request and then identify significant predictors of these reactions.

Methods: We conducted a random phone survey of 329 Sacramento adults (response rate = 69%). Key outcomes were respondents' perceived likelihood of reacting to the nonfulfillment of a prescription request by becoming disappointed, trying to persuade the physician to reconsider, seeking a prescription from a different physician, and changing physicians. We also assessed associations between the likelihood of these reactions and respondents' evaluations of their physician's communication skills; attitudes toward, assumptions about the regulation of, and past responses to DTC advertising; health status; and demographic characteristics.

Results: Disappointment was the most likely reaction (46%). One fourth of the respondents anticipated resorting to persuasion and seeking the prescription elsewhere, while only 15% considered terminating their relationship with their physicians. Subjects who anticipated reacting in these 4 ways reported lower satisfaction with their physicians, evaluated DTC advertising more favorably, and possessed more confidence in the government's regulation of these advertisements.

Conclusions: A sizable fraction of patients believed they would react negatively if their physician refused to provide a prescription for a drug advertised in the general media. Avenues for dealing effectively with patients' advertising-induced requests for prescription drugs are needed.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Advertising*
  • Aged
  • Attitude to Health
  • California
  • Communication
  • Drug Industry
  • Female
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Participation*
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations*
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Physicians / psychology
  • Refusal to Treat*


  • Pharmaceutical Preparations