Disease Information in Direct-to-Consumer Prescription Drug Print Ads

J Health Commun. 2016;21(2):228-39. doi: 10.1080/10810730.2015.1058440. Epub 2015 Dec 30.


Direct-to-consumer (DTC) prescription drug advertisements sometimes include information about the disease condition in addition to information about the advertised product. Although the intent of such information is to educate about the disease condition, in some cases consumers may mistakenly assume that the drug will address all of the potential consequences of the condition mentioned in the ad. We investigated the effects of adding disease information to DTC prescription drug print ads on consumer product perceptions and understanding. Participants (4,064 adults) viewed 1 of 15 DTC print ads for fictitious prescription drugs indicated to treat chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, anemia, or lymphoma that varied in disease information presence, type, and format. Participants answered questions that assessed risk and benefit memory, perception, and behavioral intention. Results indicate that exposure to disease information as part of DTC prescription drug ads can promote the impression that the drug addresses consequences of the condition that are not part of the drug's indication.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Consumer Health Information*
  • Direct-to-Consumer Advertising / methods*
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prescription Drugs*


  • Prescription Drugs