Direct-to-consumer television advertisements of prescription drugs and their impact on physician prescription-writing tendencies

Albertson, Jocelyn
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This study explores the impact of direct-to-consumer television (DTC) prescription drug advertisements on physicians' attitudes toward the pharmaceutical products featured in those ads and their tendency to prescribe those products. In doing so, it examines doctors' responsiveness to patient requests resulting from exposure to such ads. It applies the tenets of the diffusion of innovations theory and the two-step flow hypothesis to better understand the role of patient-doctor interpersonal interaction on physicians' prescription-writing tendencies. This study was inspired by Petroshius, Titus and Hatch (1995) who explored the impact of physicians' attitudes toward pharmaceutical company advertising on physicians' prescription drug writing habits and responsiveness to patient requests. The current inquiry replicates the Petroshius et al. study's objectives although it is a bit more specific in its purpose, focusing on television DTC ads. A self-administered questionnaire was sent to 210 licensed Iowa physicians who are general or family practitioners. The physicians were randomly selected from the 2004 Iowa Medical Society Directory. The findings showed that Iowa physicians are not in favor of televised DTC advertising of prescription products. Furthermore, the results support a revised version of the two-step flow: physicians' attitudes are directly linked and are important contributors to their tendencies to prescribe a product their patients learned about from ads they saw on television.

Journalism and mass communication