Consumer Reactions to the Tone of Written Drug Information

Published in: American Journal of Hospital Pharmacy, v. 38, no. 5, May 1981 p. 667-671

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 1981

by Louis A. Morris, David E. Kanouse

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Emotional and cognitive reactions to four different patient package inserts (PPIs) describing flurazepam were tested. All documents contained the same basic information. However, this information was presented in a frank manner to half the subjects and in a reassuring manner to the other half. In addition, in both cases, drug side effects were presented either as a list or in paragraph form. Study subjects--456 members of a college community--each read one of the PPIs and then completed a self-administered questionnaire that had 10 multiple-choice questions about flurazepam and 19 scaled questions focusing on semantics. The frank version was judged clearer, more interesting, longer, and more appropriate for an adult audience. Tone also affected which items of information in the PPI were remembered best, possibly because it helped to establish which information was considered most important. Caution should be observed in generalizing the study conclusions until they are corroborated by research on a wider patient population.

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