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Healthy Skepticism Library item: 3011

Warning: This library includes all items relevant to health product marketing that we are aware of regardless of quality. Often we do not agree with all or part of the contents.


Publication type: Journal Article

Thompson EL.
Sexual bias in drug advertisements.
Soc Sci Med 1979 Mar; 13A:(2):187-91


This study was based on drug advertisements appaering in two leading American medical journals in 1975. The sex distribution of patients shown in advertisements for drugs for various conditions was compared with the sex distribution of those people who are actually afflicted with these conditions. Sexual bias was found in advertisements for medications for hypertension, anxiety, insomnia, angina, depression, and hyperlipidemia. In each case there were significantly more male patients shown in the advertisements than was warranted. No bias was found in advertisements for drugs for respiratory problems, non-respiratory infections, arthritis and pain.

*content analysis/United States/journal advertisements/images in ads/men/women/sexism/EVALUATION OF PROMOTION: JOURNAL ADVERTISEMENTS/IMAGES IN PROMOTION: MEN/IMAGES IN PROMOTION: WOMEN Advertising* Female Humans Male Periodicals Pharmaceutical Preparations* Sex*


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Far too large a section of the treatment of disease is to-day controlled by the big manufacturing pharmacists, who have enslaved us in a plausible pseudo-science...
The blind faith which some men have in medicines illustrates too often the greatest of all human capacities - the capacity for self deception...
Some one will say, Is this all your science has to tell us? Is this the outcome of decades of good clinical work, of patient study of the disease, of anxious trial in such good faith of so many drugs? Give us back the childlike trust of the fathers in antimony and in the lancet rather than this cold nihilism. Not at all! Let us accept the truth, however unpleasant it may be, and with the death rate staring us in the face, let us not be deceived with vain fancies...
we need a stern, iconoclastic spirit which leads, not to nihilism, but to an active skepticism - not the passive skepticism, born of despair, but the active skepticism born of a knowledge that recognizes its limitations and knows full well that only in this attitude of mind can true progress be made.
- William Osler 1909