Date of Award

Spring 2020

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

Psychology; College of Arts & Sciences

First Advisor

Marianne Miserandino

Abstract

More than half of women use prescription birth control or another prescription reproductive health product, such as the HPV vaccine. Pharmaceutical companies put large amounts of money into advertising these products to women. Despite its prevalence, the individual impact of advertisements on consumers is unclear. Companies spend money on advertising because they make their money back in sales, but when those ads drive sales that impact intimate health choices, they shape people’s lives and lifestyles, rather than just a product choice. This paper seeks to answer the question of how direct to consumer advertisements influence prescription patterns for reproductive health products. To answer it, studies on direct to consumer advertisements for reproductive health products were synthesized to show the path from advertisement design, to the behavioral mechanisms guiding consumer’s choices after they have viewed an ad. This path shows the influence of advertising exposure on consumer’s behaviors around reproductive health products, such as research into a product, conversations about it with a physician, and the purchase and use of a product. This is why companies advertise, it works. At a fiscal level, advertisements generate money for companies. For the people viewing advertisements, the results can be a biased education, leading to healthcare choices that are not the best possible choice for that person. Because advertisements are selling a product, the inclusion of only the positive information about that product feels intuitive, but leaves consumers without a proper understanding about the risks of the products they use.

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You’re Just a Dollar Sign to Them: Direct to Consumer Advertising of Prescription Birth Control

More than half of women use prescription birth control or another prescription reproductive health product, such as the HPV vaccine. Pharmaceutical companies put large amounts of money into advertising these products to women. Despite its prevalence, the individual impact of advertisements on consumers is unclear. Companies spend money on advertising because they make their money back in sales, but when those ads drive sales that impact intimate health choices, they shape people’s lives and lifestyles, rather than just a product choice. This paper seeks to answer the question of how direct to consumer advertisements influence prescription patterns for reproductive health products. To answer it, studies on direct to consumer advertisements for reproductive health products were synthesized to show the path from advertisement design, to the behavioral mechanisms guiding consumer’s choices after they have viewed an ad. This path shows the influence of advertising exposure on consumer’s behaviors around reproductive health products, such as research into a product, conversations about it with a physician, and the purchase and use of a product. This is why companies advertise, it works. At a fiscal level, advertisements generate money for companies. For the people viewing advertisements, the results can be a biased education, leading to healthcare choices that are not the best possible choice for that person. Because advertisements are selling a product, the inclusion of only the positive information about that product feels intuitive, but leaves consumers without a proper understanding about the risks of the products they use.

 
 

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