Drug ads linking disease risk with family history influence medication choice

PHILADELPHIA Drug advertisements that tie disease risks with family history can influence consumers' choice of medications and have a beneficial effect on those consumers' lifestyle choices, according to a study published in the August issue of the Journal of Applied Communication Research.


Researchers from the communications departments at the University of Georgia and the University of Pennsylvania analyzed responses of 400 adults who looked at direct-to-consumer ads for various drugs to determine what affect tying disease to family history would have on their decisions to get the drugs and whether the ads would spur them to make healthier lifestyle choices or view onset of a disease as unavoidable.



In one example, participants were shown an ad for Merck & Co.’s cholesterol drug Vytorin (ezetimibe and simvastatin). When shown the original ad, which stated that high cholesterol results from "food and family," the participants exhibited an interest in engaging in healthy lifestyle behaviors, but not when the ad copy was changed to "food and inactivity."



"In a way, we do not believe we are like our parents, in that respondents felt they can overcome family risks to health issues by both pursuing a healthy lifestyle and investigating use of the advertised medications," University of Georgia researcher Minsun Shim stated.


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