The Effects of Print Format in Direct-To-Consumer Prescription Drug Advertisements on Risk Knowledge and Preference


This research examined the effects of format in print direct-to-consumer (DTC) prescription drug advertisements in communicating benefit and risks. Print advertisements for sixfictitious drugs were created. Each drug was manipulated on the basis of six conditions, differing on the basis of color and the integration or separation of the benefit and risk information. A sixth condition (control) lacked risk information. Participants were presented with the DTC advertisements. Performance on a subsequent knowledge test of benefit and risk information was measured. Later participants were shown six advertisements of a single drug advertisement each representing the manipulations and were asked to rank them on perceived effectiveness of communicating drug benefits and risks. Results showed that the presence of physical features (eg, color) that distinguish the risk information from other text facilitated knowledge acquisition and increased perceived effectiveness ranks. Implications for the presentation of print risk information in advertisements are discussed.

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Corresponding author

Correspondence to Michael S. Wogalter PhD.

Additional information

Portions of this research were presented at the 43rd Annual Meeting of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society (2).

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Wogalter, M.S., Smith-Jackson, T.L., Mills, B.J. et al. The Effects of Print Format in Direct-To-Consumer Prescription Drug Advertisements on Risk Knowledge and Preference. Ther Innov Regul Sci 36, 693–705 (2002).

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Key Words

  • Direct-to-consumer
  • Risk communication
  • Consumer knowledge
  • Design of medical information
  • Drug advertisements