Journal of Risk Research study flawed

flawedKEY TAKEAWAY: A recent study in the Journal of Rish research suggested that patients, when visiting pharma websites, don’t read drug risk information.  This study is flawed in many ways and DTC marketers should not read too much into it.

As any DTC marketer knows, or should know, the “safety information” page is always among the top pages on drug websites.  Patients want to understand what to expect from their Rx’s both before and after filling an Rx.

The Journal of Risk research would have us believe other wide, but there are significant flaws in the study:


1ne: Individuals who had been diagnosed by a physician as having seasonal allergies and had symptoms in the prior 12 months were recruited from throughout the campus community of a major southeastern university.  Observation: First seasonal allergy drugs usually don’t have serious side effects, second students are likely to read risk information compared to the general patient population.

2wo: Thirty-five individuals began the study; however, six individuals were omitted due to inability to calibrate or track their eyes with the equipment, resulting in a sample of Observation: Small sample size for a drug website risk information eye tracking study even though some eye tracking studies use similar sample sizes.  The authors failed to take into account warnings and safety information on other pages like the home page.

Other Observations:

-Study needs to look at Rx drugs for chronic conditions where the side effects &warnings are more dire.

-Need to look at patient of ALL ages and educational backgrounds, not just University students.

-Need to take into account drug warnings on all web pages, not just risks page.

My past research has shown that when side effects are more serious like, death, cancer and suicidal thoughts, website visitors take notice.  Also, when quoting data the authors would be better served to use data that is more recent than 2013 as the healthcare market has changed substantially.