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Consumers' various and surprising responses to direct-to-consumer advertisements in magazine print

Authors Arney J, Street Jr R, Naik A

Received 18 September 2012

Accepted for publication 9 October 2012

Published 22 January 2013 Volume 2013:7 Pages 95—102


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

Jennifer Arney,1–3 Richard L Street Jr,2–4 Aanand D Naik2,3

1Department of Sociology, University of Houston – Clear Lake, 2Houston VA Health Services Research and Development Center of Excellence, Michael E DeBakey Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, 3Section on Health Services Research, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, 4Department of Communication, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, USA

Abstract: Direct-to-consumer advertising (DTCA) is ubiquitous in media outlets, but little is known about the ways in which consumers' values, needs, beliefs, and biases influence the perceived meaning and value of DTCA. This article aims to identify the taxonomy of readership categories that reflect the complexity of how health care consumers interact with DTCA, with particular focus on individuals' perceptions of print DTCA in popular magazines. Respondent-driven sampling was used to recruit 18 male and female magazine readers and 18 male and female prescription medication users aged 18–71 years. Semi-structured, in-depth interviews with consumers about their attentiveness, motivations, perceived value, and behavioral responses to DTCA were conducted. The analyses were guided by principles of grounded theory analysis; four categories that vary in consumers' attentiveness, motivations, perceived value, and behavioral responses to DTCA were identified. Two categories – the lay physician and the informed shopper – see value in information from DTCA and are likely to seek medical care based on the information. One category – the voyeur – reads DTCA, but is not likely to approach a clinician regarding advertised information. The fourth category – the evader – ignores DTCA and is not likely to approach a clinician with DTCA information. Responses to DTCA vary considerably among consumers, and physicians should view patients' understanding and response to DTCA within the context of their health-related needs. Patients' comments related to DTCA may be used as an opportunity to engage and understand patients' perspectives about illness and medication use. Clinicians may use information about these categories to facilitate shared understanding and improve communication within the doctor–patient relationship.

communication, decision making, doctor–patient relationships, qualitative research

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