Journal of General Internal Medicine

, Volume 18, Issue 4, pp 294–297

The quantity and quality of scientific graphs in pharmaceutical advertisements

  • Richelle J. Cooper
  • David L. Schriger
  • Roger C. Wallace
  • Vladislav J. Mikulich
  • Michael S. Wilkes
Brief Reports

DOI: 10.1046/j.1525-1497.2003.20703.x

Cite this article as:
Cooper, R.J., Schriger, D.L., Wallace, R.C. et al. J GEN INTERN MED (2003) 18: 294. doi:10.1046/j.1525-1497.2003.20703.x

Abstract

We characterized the quantity and quality of graphs in all pharmaceutical advertisements in the 1999 issues of 10 U.S. medical journals. Four hundred eighty-four unique advertisements (of 3,185 total advertisements) contained 836 glossy and 455 small-print pages. Forty-nine percent of glossy page area was nonscientific figures/images, 0.4% tables, and 1.6% scientific graphs (74 graphs in 64 advertisements). All 74 graphs were univariate displays, 4% were distributions, and 4% contained confidence intervals for summary measures. Extraneous decoration (66%) and redundancy (46%) were common. Fifty-eight percent of graphs presented an outcome relevant to the drug’s indication. Numeric distortion, specifically prohibited by FDA regulations, occurred in 36% of graphs.

Key words

advertising standardsdrug industrygraphingmedical illustration

Copyright information

© Society of General Internal Medicine 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richelle J. Cooper
    • 1
  • David L. Schriger
    • 1
  • Roger C. Wallace
    • 1
  • Vladislav J. Mikulich
    • 1
  • Michael S. Wilkes
    • 2
  1. 1.UCLA Emergency Medicine CenterUCLA School of MedicineLos Angeles
  2. 2.the Department of MedicineUC Davis School of MedicineDavis