Pharmacy students' opinions of direct-to-consumer advertising: A pilot study at one university

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Abstract

Background

Direct-to-consumer advertisement (DTCA) of prescription medications has become an important informational source for health care consumers. As future health care professionals on the front line of potential communication and dispensing of products emerging from DTCA, it is important to elicit the attitudes of student-pharmacists.

Objectives

This study aims to (1) evaluate the validity of the DTCA attitudinal questionnaire using Rasch rating scale analysis and (2) investigate the attitudes of pharmacy students toward DTCA and determine whether these attitudes were associated with years of pharmacy education and demographic characteristics.

Methods

This investigation used a cross-sectional print-based questionnaire to evaluate the attitudes of pharmacy students toward DTCA of prescription medications. The 16-item questionnaire included items addressing the attitudes of pharmacy students toward DTCA with respect to patients' knowledge of medications, pharmacists' interaction with patients, and overall consumer judgment of medical prescriptions. Analyses included Rasch analysis and a multiple linear regression.

Results

A total of 243 students submitted usable questionnaires (85% response rate). Item response categories were collapsed from 5 categories to 3, and 4 items were removed to achieve acceptable Rasch model fit. Pharmacy students demonstrated little difficulty in agreeing with the statements suggesting that DTCA helps patients take a more active role in health care and had the most difficulty in agreeing with items suggesting that DTCA may lead to inappropriate prescribing to satisfy patient requests. Students' overall support for DTCA was the only variable that predicted the questionnaire score (P < .001).

Conclusions

In conclusion, the Rasch analysis evaluated the psychometric properties of the instrument and identified the necessity to adapt the questionnaire from previous iterations to adequately fit the student population. Future research should examine factors that contribute to the variance in attitudes toward DTCA among a larger and more heterogeneous population.

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