Quantitative Information on Oncology Prescription Drug Websites

J Cancer Educ. 2018 Apr;33(2):371-374. doi: 10.1007/s13187-016-1107-1.


Our objective was to determine whether and how quantitative information about drug benefits and risks is presented to consumers and healthcare professionals on cancer-related prescription drug websites. We analyzed the content of 65 active cancer-related prescription drug websites. We assessed the inclusion and presentation of quantitative information for two audiences (consumers and healthcare professionals) and two types of information (drug benefits and risks). Websites were equally likely to present quantitative information for benefits (96.9 %) and risks (95.4 %). However, the amount of the information differed significantly: Both consumer-directed and healthcare-professional-directed webpages were more likely to have quantitative information for every benefit (consumer 38.5 %; healthcare professional 86.1 %) compared with every risk (consumer 3.1 %; healthcare professional 6.2 %). The numeric and graphic presentations also differed by audience and information type. Consumers have access to quantitative information about oncology drugs and, in particular, about the benefits of these drugs. Research has shown that using quantitative information to communicate treatment benefits and risks can increase patients' and physicians' understanding and can aid in treatment decision-making, although some numeric and graphic formats are more useful than others.

Keywords: Cancer; Internet; Marketing; Prescription drug.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Consumer Health Informatics / methods*
  • Consumer Health Information*
  • Decision Making*
  • Direct-to-Consumer Advertising / methods*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Internet / instrumentation*
  • Medical Oncology*
  • Prescription Drugs / pharmacology
  • Prescription Drugs / therapeutic use*


  • Prescription Drugs