As the Internet has grown as a powerful source for consumer health information seekers, it has also become a commercial tool for marketing health products and services. Along with direct-to-consumer television and print advertising, websites present consumers with prescription drug options outside the context of the clinic. While consumers who encounter health product commercials in television and print are likely to recognize their promotional nature, when they seek health information on the Internet, the distinctions between marketing and health education may be blurred. Recognizing women as a primary target of this marketing, the social amplification of risk framework and elaboration likelihood model guided a content analysis of ten promotional contraceptive websites, sponsored by pharmaceutical companies. Overall, the websites promoted physiological advantages other than the effectiveness of the contraceptive itself, convenience, and the drugs' relative lower risk as compared to other forms of contraception. Websites presented risk information in text smaller than the majority of text and at the end of the webpage, requiring the user to scroll down to view the information. The websites also presented content and design strategies that social marketers can employ in the design of public health websites, such as the expert and peer sources presented, ethnic diversity of women depicted, and the plain language, nonbranded website addresses used.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Economics and Econometrics