Researchers at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston recently administered a survey to 348 patients with a variety of cancers. The response rate was 75%, which was a pretty good for a survey. Overall, 86.2% of patients reported being aware of cancer-related direct-to-consumer advertising, mostly for supportive care products. Most of the exposure came from television (77.7%) or magazines (66.7%), neither of which are entirely surprising facts.
Among the respondents, 56.8% said the advertising helped them have better discussions with their physicians. However, it wasn't all good news for Pharma companies though. Although nearly one-fifth (17.3%) of patients discussed the advertised medications with doctors and/or nurses, only 3% reported seeing an advertisement for a cancer-related product, discussing it with a provider and receiving a prescription for the medication. That may well be a reflection of the
paucity of DTC ads in oncology, but a small minority (11.2%), said the advertisements made them more distrustful of their physician’s judgement.
Image via CrunchBase
There was some good news of sorts though, because what did catch me by surprise was the Twitter symbol at the bottom of the abstract discussing the study:
That's a good sign that journals are getting more comfortable with mainstream social media rather than just focusing on academic bookmark tools such as Connotea and Cite-U-Like. It also means that patients and caregivers finding the abstracts can now share them more easily and enable conversations around the topics to take place with others.
Openness and a willingness to debate these issues in public is a good thing in health care.
Abel, G., Burstein, H., Hevelone, N., & Weeks, J. (2009). Cancer-Related Direct-to-Consumer Advertising: Awareness, Perceptions, and Reported Impact Among Patients Undergoing Active Cancer Treatment Journal of Clinical Oncology DOI: 10.1200/JCO.2008.20.6599