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Healthy Skepticism Library item: 6869

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

Lovdahl U, Riska A, Riska E.
Gender display in Scandinavian and American advertising for antidepressants.
Scand J Public Health 1999 Dec; 27:(4):306-10


This study examines whether depiction of users of antidepressants in advertisements for antidepressants in the 1995 issues of the major medical journal in each of Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden differs from that in the American Journal of Psychiatry. The results show that the people shown in the Danish, Finnish, and Norwegian journals are predominantly women, whereas depiction of users in the American and Swedish advertising is predominantly of couples. The portrayals in the 1995 advertising are of antidepressants as female gendered; a feature that was not seen in advertising for psychotropic drugs in the Nordic countries in the 1980s.

*content analysis/Denmark/Finland/Norway/Sweden/United States/ images in ads/ journal advertisements/ psychotropic drugs/ men/ women/ depression/sexism/EVALUATION OF PROMOTION: JOURNAL ADVERTISEMENTS/IMAGES IN PROMOTION: MEN/IMAGES IN PROMOTION: WOMEN/PROMOTION IN SPECIFIC THERAPEUTIC AREAS: PSYCHIATRIC DISEASES Advertising* African Americans African Continental Ancestry Group Antidepressive Agents* Comparative Study Continental Population Groups Denmark European Continental Ancestry Group Female Finland Humans Male Norway Periodicals Psychotropic Drugs Sex* Sex Factors* Sweden United States


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Cases of wilful misrepresentation are a rarity in medical advertising. For every advertisement in which nonexistent doctors are called on to testify or deliberately irrelevant references are bunched up in [fine print], you will find a hundred or more whose greatest offenses are unquestioning enthusiasm and the skill to communicate it.

The best defence the physician can muster against this kind of advertising is a healthy skepticism and a willingness, not always apparent in the past, to do his homework. He must cultivate a flair for spotting the logical loophole, the invalid clinical trial, the unreliable or meaningless testimonial, the unneeded improvement and the unlikely claim. Above all, he must develop greater resistance to the lure of the fashionable and the new.
- Pierre R. Garai (advertising executive) 1963