A content analysis of direct-to-consumer television prescription drug advertisements

J Health Commun. 2004 Nov-Dec;9(6):515-28. doi: 10.1080/10810730490882586.


This article reports the results of a content analysis of 23 direct-to-consumer (DTC) product-specific television prescription drug advertisements broadcast during 2001. A majority of ads used both medical and lay terms to convey medical ideas. Most gave consumers somewhat more time to absorb facts about benefits than those about risks, which could have implications for the "fair balance" requirement. Complete references to additional product information were given only in text, casting doubt on whether these ads are making"adequate provision"for dissemination of detailed product information. Overall, our results call into question the potential of these ads to educate consumers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Advertising / standards
  • Advertising / statistics & numerical data*
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Consumer Behavior*
  • Drug Industry / economics
  • Drug Industry / standards
  • Drug Industry / statistics & numerical data*
  • Drug Prescriptions*
  • Humans
  • Information Dissemination
  • Persuasive Communication
  • Risk
  • Television / statistics & numerical data*
  • United States