Informational and symbolic content of over-the-counter drug advertising on television

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Abstract

The informational and symbolic content of 150 over-the-counter drug commercials on television are empirically analyzed in this study. Results on the informational content suggest that over-the-counter drug ads tend to focus on the concern of what the drug will do for the consumer, rather than on the reasons why the drug should be ingested. Accordingly, advertising strategy is centered on consumer awareness of the product as the primary goal. Educational commitment, however, did not seem to be blended into the promotional efforts for over-the-counter drugs. Findings on the symbolic content of over-the-counter drug ads reveal that drug images have been distorted. Performance of most drugs has been portrayed to be simple resolutions to relieve the symptom. Moreover, a casual attitude toward drug usage is encouraged in the commercials, while time lapse of drug effects is overlooked.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)173-197
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Drug Education
Volume27
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1997
Externally publishedYes

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Health(social science)

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