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J Gen Intern Med. 2003 Apr;18(4):294-7.

The quantity and quality of scientific graphs in pharmaceutical advertisements.

Author information

1
Received from UCLA Emergency Medicine Center, UCLA School of Medicine, Los Angeles, Calif. 90024, USA. richelle@ucla.edu

Abstract

We characterized the quantity and quality of graphs in all pharmaceutical advertisements, in the 10 U.S. medical journals. Four hundred eighty-four unique advertisements (of 3,185 total advertisements) contained 836 glossy and 455 small-print pages. Forty-nine percent of glossy page area was nonscientific figures/images, 0.4% tables, and 1.6% scientific graphs (74 graphs in 64 advertisements). All 74 graphs were univariate displays, 4% were distributions, and 4% contained confidence intervals for summary measures. Extraneous decoration (66%) and redundancy (46%) were common. Fifty-eight percent of graphs presented an outcome relevant to the drug's indication. Numeric distortion, specifically prohibited by FDA regulations, occurred in 36% of graphs.

Comment in

PMID:
12709097
PMCID:
PMC1494849
DOI:
10.1046/j.1525-1497.2003.20703.x
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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