The authors believe that this study serves as a valuable assessment of DTC advertisements and the impact inside the physician’s office. We believe that it is a landmark study particularly as it relates to minority populations and insight into this issue. We acknowledge that this issue is a great undertaking with several unanswered questions, but are confident in our results and methodology. There are several limitations and/or factors that could influence the results that may or may not have been overcome:
Despite the limitations, we feel confident with our data and the contribution of this study to this highly debated issue. As we discussed, this is the first major study on DTC that was conducted in an offices vs. telephone or Web-based survey. We feel that we overcame some of the limitations of those studies and offer a better view of the patient/physician interaction in that we are able to view both actions and perceptions during the same time period. We know that minority patients often are not as amenable to clinical trials and/or studies given issues with trust and the medical community. However, in this study, the setting was in their physician’s office, a familiar, trusting environment, and thus, some of the traditional barriers were removed. Additionally, this survey differs from previous surveys in that we do not have to overcome the problem of random phone calls to patients and/or the reliance on their memory of events several weeks prior with their physician. We surveyed the physicians during the same time period and were able to track the actions. eriacta tablets
Despite the methodology our results are not vastly different from previous studies, this further validates the results or credibility of previous reports. As an example, as it relates to exposure of the advertisements, in our study 76% of the respondents had seen or heard an ad in the two months prior to the survey vs. the FDA 2002 study’s reported 81% overtions, or that time is spent “diverting the patient from education to negotiation.” We have not seen any evidence to support this assertion based on scientific data, but acknowledge anecdotal physician/patient encounters. However, based on our data and other similar studies, overall, neither patients nor physicians perceive a negative impact of the interaction.
One of the epidemics in medicine is non-compliance. As we report, 23% of our respondents stated that the ads would influence them taking the meds vs. 17 % in the Prevention 2001-2002 study. It is important to note that in our previous study, only 17% of surveyed physicians felt that the ads increased patient compliance. However, even though this does not represent the majority opinion, we feel that, if coupled with physician or healthcare provider intervention, reinforcement and other compliance tools, we could potentially increase adherence to medical regimens, and thus, make a significant impact on public health.
This study’s demographics consist of primarily minority patients and it is important to analyze our results in relation to previous reports. A survey from Market Measures Interactive found that minority respondents were more affected by DTC advertising vs. whites and that 29% contacted their doctors as a result of the ads vs. 19% of whites. We did not specifically ask respondents if they contacted their physician as a result of the ads, but did ask about their “actions” such as making an appointment and plans to discuss with their physician. We do not report that minorities have increased response rates to the ads, and according to our data, have slightlythree-month period.6 Certainly there is a core amount of data that indicates that DTC does encourage “action” and therefore one’s awareness of their health and our study further substantiates these findings. In our survey, as is consistent with other findings; DTC does cause patients to look for more information. An additional area of concern relates to the ads helping patients make better decisions and/or keep them more informed about health as reported by 48% of our respondents. We believe that the data concurs with previous studies, such as the Kaiser Survey, that stated that the ads prompted patients to talk with their doctor about medications they have seen advertised. One of the strongest criticisms of DTC is that physicians have less time with patients because they have to discuss unnecessary medicaless exposure vs. previous reports such as the FDA 2002 and Prevention Surveys. We did analyze the patients in thus study with race as the sole variable; however, the data was not statistically significance. There are some significant differences noted between our study and other similar studies as it relates to patients taking action as a result of the ads. Only 11 % of the patients we surveyed planned on asking for a prescription at the time of the visit vs. 30% reported by Prevention. We also found that our respondents were less likely to plan on discussing a medication with their doctor during their office visit as compared to other survey reports. On the heels of data recently released by the Institute of Medicine on the rampant healthcare disparities in the nation, we assert that if there is a role in increasing health awareness by DTC ads that there must be an effort to increase the diversity by which the messages are seen and heard. This is inline with the position statement issued by the National Medical Association, we know that patients may identify with more diverse representation and thus the health message becomes more pertinent to the minority population. canada drugs pharmacy
While there are extremes on both sides of this issue, the data is clear that there is a role that DTC currently plays in healthcare. As we stated in the first study, we support the efforts and continued research of the FDA and in providing oversight and assuring balance in the advertisements. We support increasing the health messages in ads, with less emphasis on the specific medication and more on the overall disease state. The pharmaceutical industry cannot object to this request, if it is indeed their argument that the ads promote health awareness as well as individual medications. This balanced approach will serve both the industry and the general public without necessitating more stringent federal regulations and provide good public relations. Additionally, the industry must address the concerns of the frontline of healthcare, the physicians and other healthcare providers. By seeking continued balance, all parties can reach their individual goals and find a common ground without compromising their integrity.