Do antidepressant advertisements educate consumers and promote communication between patients with depression and their physicians?

Robert A Bell, Laramie D. Taylor, Richard L Kravitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

23 Scopus citations


Objective: To examine how online depression support group members respond to direct-to-consumer (DTC) antidepressant advertising. Methods: Survey of 148 depression forum members, administered via an online questionnaire. Results: Chronicity was high, as 79.1% had received a diagnosis of depression 3 or more years earlier. Respondents reported seeing advertisements for an average of 4.3 of seven brands investigated. A majority rated the information quality of these advertisements as " poor" or " fair." Attitudes toward antidepressant advertisements were neutral (mean: 2.96 on a five-point scale). More than half (52.4%) visited official websites provided in these advertisements, 39.9% had talked with a doctor after seeing an advertisement, 20.3% made an advertisement-induced prescription request, and 25.7% said these advertisements reminded them to take their antidepressants. Amount of attention given to these advertisements correlated positively with belief in the brain chemical imbalance causal model, but belief in this model did not predict prescription requests. Conclusion: Awareness of DTC antidepressant advertisements is high among individuals with depression, but so is skepticism. Practice implications: Among members of an online support group, these advertisements encourage patient-doctor dialogue, prescription requests, and adherence, but might also reduce the acceptability of psychotherapy and encourage doctor switching in a small number of patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)245-250
Number of pages6
JournalPatient Education and Counseling
Issue number2
StatePublished - Nov 2010



  • Advertisements
  • Advertising
  • Antidepressants
  • Chemical imbalance
  • Depression
  • Direct-to-consumer
  • Drugs
  • Marketing
  • Patient requests
  • Prescription
  • Promotion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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