Evaluating direct-to-consumer marketing of race-based pharmacogenomics: a focus group study of public understandings of applied genomic medication.

School of Communication Studies, Ohio University, Athens, Ohio 45710, USA.
Journal of Health Communication (Impact Factor: 1.61). 11/2004; 9(6):541-59. DOI: 10.1080/10810730490882720
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Some medical providers have advocated applied genomics, including the use of genetically linked racial phenotypes in medical practice, raising fear that race-based medication will become justified. As with other emerging medical genetic technologies, pharmaceutical companies may advertise these treatments. Researchers fear that consumers will uncritically accept pharmaceutical messages and demand the product. In this exploratory study, we examined public reactions to advertisements for applied genomic medications. A focus group methodology was employed. Participants tended to resist the message and generated warrants for doing so, indicating critical reception of the messages. Message accepters also provided warrants. Warrants for resistance and acceptance differ between self-identified racial groups. Consumers, health care providers, and pharmaceutical corporations will benefit from a better understanding of direct-to-consumer advertisements as medical communication. Our study concludes that both advocates and opponents of direct-to-consumer advertisements should recognize that potential consumers of pharmacogenomics act as critical consumers of health advertising discourse.

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