Thursday, May 29, 2014

Going for the heart strings, of course

There was a new study (because we need a new study so the researchers don't have to polish up their CVs -  that's resume for the non-technical) that says there are more and more ads for cancer treatments and cancer treatment centers. Their results showed that:

"A systematic content analysis of these ads found that the content is sharply directed at a would-be patient’s heartstrings:

  – 85% made emotional appeals to consumers
  – 61% used language about hope, extension of life, or a cure
  – 52% touted innovative, or advanced technology or treatments
  – 30% evoked fear by mentioned death, fear, or loss


Nearly half of the advertisements included patient testimonials, but only 15% included a disclaimer about patient outcome. No advertisements described the outcomes a “typical” patient may experience. Failure to disclose this information is a violation of a Federal Trade Commission mandate, the report notes."

Only 2% of the ads disclosed the risks and 5% disclosed the costs. Basically, they skipped right over the parts that say you might be throwing up as you are going bankrupt... but I digress.

Emotion based advertising is a key target in the advertising world. Feel their pain and you can make them open their wallets. But evoking fear of death is kind of creepy. If you don't try this, you WILL die!

"“Clinical advertisements that use emotional appeal uncoupled with information about indications, benefits, risks, or alternatives may lead patients to pursue care that is either unnecessary or unsupported by scientific evidence.”"

The researchers conclude by saying that further research is needed to see if this emotion based, direct to consumer advertising is contributing to the sky rocketing cancer care costs in recent years. (Job security.)  If it is promoting misinformation by omission of key information for consumers and playing on their emotions, its not a great use of the money.

My thought is all this advertising is clearly contributing to pharmaceutical company and medical center bottom lines through additional costs. Which in turn is bumping up their overhead. The kind of advertising that is done is not cheap. So maybe we should just get rid of it - just as we got rid of alcohol and tobacco advertising in the past and their costs would go down, and then our prices. But that would be a pipe dream on our part.

2 comments:

SStorrie said...

Your right. Its a shame too because they are uplifting to hear. But I too have noticed that almost everyone in those commercials for Cancer treatments of America are no longer with us. Stage 4 has no cure that I know of... just extra time. With your loved ones which in most cases is good. I wish they were more honest. I do believe we would appreciate the truth with facts than nothing at all. We as human beings will always be looking for a cure everywhere no matter what because we need & want to survive. So unfortunately they are giving us what we want. Not what we need. I myself am always a little Leary of anything that sounds to good to be true. I've seen too many friends die in the last few yrs. And some are still alive that I thought would've died by now from their cancer. Good Research, Good Doctors, Positive Attitude and a Damn good support system seems to be the best medicine of all.
Thanks for a good article Caroline. I do enjoy them and I'm glad we're FB friends. Congrats on your blog! You deserve it��

Sheryl Storrie

Emilywf said...

Good idea, Caroline. When Iwas a kid pharmaceuticals were not allowed.