Cancer-related direct-to-consumer advertising (DTCA) is controversial because cancer treatment is complex and entails more risks and costs than typical treatments that are advertised for other conditions. Drawing from the Structural Influence Model of Communication, this study explores communication inequalities in DTCA exposure across social determinants among a population-based sample of 2013 patients diagnosed with breast, prostate, or colorectal cancers. Three survey items assessed patients’ frequency of encountering ads concerning treatment alternatives for cancer, dealing with side effects of treatment, and doctors or hospitals offering services for cancer following their diagnosis. The analysis showed that overall exposure to DTCA in this study population was modest (median was once per week). Breast cancer patients reported significantly higher exposure to all three ad categories and overall DTCA exposure than prostate and colorectal cancer patients. Older patients consistently reported lower overall exposure to DTCA across the three cancer types. Other significant correlates included ethnicity (higher exposures among African American prostate cancer patients vs. White; lower exposures in Hispanic colorectal cancer patients vs. White) and cancer stage (higher exposures in Stage IV prostate cancer patients vs. Stages 0–II). Education level did not predict patients’ DTCA exposure. The implications of these observed inequalities in DTCA exposure on cancer outcomes are discussed.
- direct-to-consumer advertising,
- cancer treatment,
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/andysltan/22/