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J Fam Pract. 1999 Jun;48(6):446-52.

Advertisement-induced prescription drug requests: patients' anticipated reactions to a physician who refuses.

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  • 1Department of Communication, University of California-Davis, 95616-8500, USA. rabell@ucdavis.edu



Drug manufacturers increasingly encourage patient prescription drug demand through the use of direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertisements. We describe patients' forecasts of their reactions if their doctor were to deny an advertisement-motivated drug request and then identify significant predictors of these reactions.


We conducted a random phone survey of 329 Sacramento adults (response rate = 69%). Key outcomes were respondents' perceived likelihood of reacting to the nonfulfillment of a prescription request by becoming disappointed, trying to persuade the physician to reconsider, seeking a prescription from a different physician, and changing physicians. We also assessed associations between the likelihood of these reactions and respondents' evaluations of their physician's communication skills; attitudes toward, assumptions about the regulation of, and past responses to DTC advertising; health status; and demographic characteristics.


Disappointment was the most likely reaction (46%). One fourth of the respondents anticipated resorting to persuasion and seeking the prescription elsewhere, while only 15% considered terminating their relationship with their physicians. Subjects who anticipated reacting in these 4 ways reported lower satisfaction with their physicians, evaluated DTC advertising more favorably, and possessed more confidence in the government's regulation of these advertisements.


A sizable fraction of patients believed they would react negatively if their physician refused to provide a prescription for a drug advertised in the general media. Avenues for dealing effectively with patients' advertising-induced requests for prescription drugs are needed.

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