DTC ads made some cancer patients doubt their docs

A survey of patients at Harvard's Dana-Farber Cancer Institute found that 11% said ads for cancer-related drugs had made them less confident in their providers' judgment.

Of the 348 respondents to the survey, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, 86% were aware of DTC advertising, particularly television spots (77%), with little variation across clinical or sociodemographic factors except that patients were more likely to be aware of products specific to their cancer types.

Of those aware of ads, 17.3% said they'd talked to their healthcare provider about an advertised medication, though fewer than a fifth of those patients reported receiving a prescription for the drug in question. Patient perceptions of DTC ads were generally favorable, particularly among non-college graduates.

The researchers concluded that the respondents were highly aware of DTC for cancer-related treatments, that they found ads to be accessible and useful and that they prompted "a modest amount of patient-provider discussion but infrequent patient-reported changes in therapy."

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