The quantity and quality of scientific graphs in pharmaceutical advertisements

Richelle J. Cooper, David L. Schriger, Roger C. Wallace, Vladislav J. Mikulich, Michael S Wilkes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

40 Scopus citations

Abstract

We characterized the quantity and quality of graphs in all pharmaceutical advertisements in the 1999 issues of 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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)294-297
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of General Internal Medicine
Volume18
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2003
Externally publishedYes

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Keywords

  • Advertising standards
  • Drug industry
  • Graphing
  • Medical illustration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine

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