Journal of Cancer Education

, Volume 33, Issue 2, pp 371–374 | Cite as

Quantitative Information on Oncology Prescription Drug Websites

  • Helen W. SullivanEmail author
  • Kathryn J. Aikin
  • Linda B. Squiers


Our objective was to determine whether and how quantitative information about drug benefits and risks is presented to consumers and healthcare professionals on cancer-related prescription drug websites. We analyzed the content of 65 active cancer-related prescription drug websites. We assessed the inclusion and presentation of quantitative information for two audiences (consumers and healthcare professionals) and two types of information (drug benefits and risks). Websites were equally likely to present quantitative information for benefits (96.9 %) and risks (95.4 %). However, the amount of the information differed significantly: Both consumer-directed and healthcare-professional-directed webpages were more likely to have quantitative information for every benefit (consumer 38.5 %; healthcare professional 86.1 %) compared with every risk (consumer 3.1 %; healthcare professional 6.2 %). The numeric and graphic presentations also differed by audience and information type. Consumers have access to quantitative information about oncology drugs and, in particular, about the benefits of these drugs. Research has shown that using quantitative information to communicate treatment benefits and risks can increase patients’ and physicians’ understanding and can aid in treatment decision-making, although some numeric and graphic formats are more useful than others.


Cancer Prescription drug Internet Marketing 



The study was funded by the Office of Prescription Drug Promotion, U.S. Food and Drug Administration. We would like to thank the following individuals who were compensated for their work: Susana Peinado, Ph.D. and Janice Tzeng, MPH, for their help in developing the coding scheme and coding the websites and Lisa Gilbert, Ph.D., for her contributions to designing the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York (outside the USA) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Helen W. Sullivan
    • 1
    Email author
  • Kathryn J. Aikin
    • 1
  • Linda B. Squiers
    • 2
  1. 1.U.S. Food and Drug AdministrationSilver SpringUSA
  2. 2.RTI InternationalResearch Triangle ParkUSA

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