Message Framing and Interactivity in Direct-to-Consumer Internet Advertisements: Visual and Textual Cues of Web Sites for Prescription Medications

by Harrington, Brooke Alayne

Abstract (Summary)
Americans adoption of the Internet has spawned the increased usage of this medium for direct-to-consumer advertising by pharmaceutical manufacturers, despite the widespread controversy over the ethics of the practice, the educational value of direct-to-consumer advertising, and the ultimate cost of the practices to the public. While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulates the industrys advertising within traditional media, the agency does not yet impose standards for direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription medications on the Internet. This content analysis of the visual and textual cues of 100 direct-to-consumer Web sites for prescription medications identifies the unexpected strong presence of gain frames relative to loss frames, as well as the manufacturers focus on educating consumers, evident within the Web sites considerable utilization of informational advertising appeals and informational rewards. Possibly, the Internets ability to support rich media and the virtually unlimited space on the Web sites encourages these manufacturers to employ informational appeals and offer a variety of informational rewards. While the data reveal the manufacturers strong usage of interactive elements, the industry can improve by fully utilizing the features of the Internet to truly benefit patients as an information source, while attracting prospective consumers. While several shortcomings are evident, including the infrequent usage of minority actors within the advertisements, the pharmaceutical industry appears to have effectively regulated itself through applying the U.S. Food and Drug Administrations direct-to-consumer advertising standards for traditional media to the World Wide Web. Implications of these findings for the pharmaceutical industry and the public are discussed, in addition to the studys impact on future research.
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:Andrea Miller; Louis Day; Anne Osborne

School:Louisiana State University in Shreveport

School Location:USA - Louisiana

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:mass communication


Date of Publication:06/02/2008

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