Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

[Reblog]Over half of drug ad claims potentially misleading

From the 30 September 2013 article by Gary Schwitzer at HealthNewsReview.org

 

Content Analysis of False and Misleading Claims in Television Advertising for Prescription and Nonprescription Drugs,” is the title of a paper in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

In the eyes of coders in this analysis, 57% of major claims in TV drug ads were potentially misleading.

But the researchers broke down different shades of truth.  For example:

Minimal Facts

A claim that presented a difference among products, but
exaggerated the importance of the difference, promoting
the difference as important when it is not; for example,
when advertisers use poor-quality clinical evidence to
support a claim, and exaggerate the clinical importance of
the poor-quality evidence.

  • “Bayer Quick Release Crystals are ready to work faster than caplets or tablets.” The formulation may dissolve quicker, but it is not taken up by the body any faster, nor will it relievepain faster than other formulations.
  • “Nothing works better than Prevacid” implies that Prevacid is superior to other heartburn remedies when, in fact, it is just as good as other heartburn remedies.

Nonfacts

A claim that presented an intangible characteristic, but not
about the product. Often these claims were in the form of
product opinions or lifestyle claims. Opinions say nothing
about the product, but consumers are left to misinterpret the
opinion as an objective product evaluation. Lifestyle claims
associate the product with a target market that the
advertiser believes is likely to buy the product, in the
absence of evidence to support additional benefit to this
subpopulation.

  • “Move on up to Aleve,” provides the advertisers baseless opinion or recommendation on the choice of product.
  • “AlkaSeltzer is the official cold medicine of the US Ski Team.” Product endorsements like this one are the opinion of a famous or identifiable entity and do not say anything about the functioning of the product.
  • “Help bridge the gap between the life you live and the life you want to live [by taking Enbrel].” This claim makes a vague lifestyle association between the product and the life “you want to life.”
  • “Levitra works for me. Maybe it can work for you,” provides the opinion of the actor in the advertisement about the functioning of Levitra.

False

A claim that was objectively false by directly contradicting
evidence, or lacking any evidence to support it.

  • “Alkaseltzer crystal packs are a taste-free powder.” Inspection of the inactive ingredients from the product label include both flavor and sucrose.
  • “The difference between Advil PM and Tylenol PM is a better night’s sleep.” The specificity of this claim implied that specific head-to-head comparative evidence was available. No studies had been published comparing Advil PM (ibuprofen with diphenhydramine) versus Tylenol PM (acetaminophen with diphenhydramine), only studies comparing ibuprofen

The researchers remind us that “consumers may see up to 30 hours of TV drug ads each year while only spending 15 to 20 minutes on average at each visit with their primary care physician.

television

television (Photo credit: jeevs)

 

Related Resources

 

Anyone can publish information on the Internet. So it is up to the searcher to decide if the information found through search engines (as Google) is reliable or not. Search engines find Web sites but do not evaluate them for content. Sponsored links may or may not contain good information.

 

 

A few universities and government agencies have published great guides on evaluating information.

 

 

Here are a few

 

  • The Penn State Medical Center Library has a great guide to evaluate health information on the Internet.

    The tips include

    • Remember, anyone can publish information on the internet!
    • If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
      If the Web site is primarily about selling a product, the information may be worth checking from another source.
    • Look for who is publishing the information and their education, credentials, and if they are connected with a trusted coporation, university or agency.
    • Check to see how current the information is.
    • Check for accuracy. Does the Web site refer to specific studies or organizations?

The Family Caregiver Alliance has a Web page entitled Evaluating Medical Research Findings and Clinical Trials
Topics include

  • General Guidelines for Evaluating Medical Research
  • Getting Information from the Web
  • Talking with your Health Care Provider

Additional Resources

And a Rumor Control site of Note (in addition to Quackwatch)
 

National Council Against Health Fraud

National Council Against Health Fraud is a nonprofit health agency fousing on health misinformation, fruad, and quackery as public health problems. Links to publications, position papers and more.

 

 

 

October 14, 2013 Posted by | Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, Health Education (General Public) | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Misleading Statistical Information in Ads: A Drug Ad Analyzed and Related Evaluation Resources

An Epidemic of Bad Infographics: Depression

http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2011/06/29/an-epidemic-of-bad-infographics-depression/

Do some statistically laden advertisements and Web sites seem misleading? Is there a disconnect between the displayed data in some ads with your gut feelings?  But you just cannot put your finger on why you feel distrustful?

Just plain sloppily represented infographics could be creating some of the confusion. Infographic combines an interesting graphical element with hard data. They are commonly seen in the media, including USA Today.

John Grohol, founder and editor-in-chief of Psych Central, deftly illustrates how to analyze a medical advertisement for misleading information (and downright errors!) in a recent blog item.

Here are some excerpts from An Epidemic of Bad Infograhics: Depression

In an effort to keep trying to get people’s attention in an increasingly attention-deficit world, we get a lot of inquiries for links to websites promoting education programs and other affiliate websites. The latest effort is focused around “infographics,” those graphics made popular by the USA Todaynewspaper that combines an interesting graphical element with hard data. A well done infographic ostensibly makes data more engaging. A fantastic infographic puts data into proper perspective and gives it valuable context.

What these marketing firms send me, however, are not fantastic or even well-done. So in the interests of demonstrating that any infographic can be worse than no infographic, I’m going to critique one of the latest ones to have come across my desk. It’s about depression, one of the most common and serious mental disorders….

….

Depression LevelsWhat about your level of depression? Well, according to the infographic — but not the research or mental health professionals — you can have different “depression levels” ranging from “Normal” (what’s a “Normal” depression?) to “Situational” or even “Major.”

Of course, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (the DSM-IV) doesn’t divide major depression in this manner. Instead, it specifies that major depression can be Mild, Moderate, Severe without Psychotic Features, Severe with Psychotic Features, In Partial Remission, In Full Remission, or Chronic.

I assume “Situational” refers to a completely different mental disorder — Adjustment Disorder with Depressed Mood. The person designing this graphic was obviously not too familiar with the actual information he was asked to illustrate……

Related Health Information Evaluation Resources

    • What to look for when reading medical research outlines the different types  of scientific studies and which ones are the best
    • Participating organizations  provides links to news items from over 25 publishers and organizations. “The publishers allow readers following links from patientINFORM material on the health organizations’ sites to access the full text of these articles without a subscription, and they provide patients and caregivers with free or reduced-fee access to other articles in participating journals.”

Related Statistics Resources

  • Guide to Biostatistics (MedPage Today) is a bit technical, but a good introduction to biostatistical terms used in medical research 

 

June 30, 2011 Posted by | health AND statistics, Health Education (General Public), statistics | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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