Medical Students Love Free Stuff

A recent study published in Archives of Internal Medicine compared two groups of medical students. One group was exposed to small branded promotional items for the cholesterol-lowering drug Lipitor, including a clipboard and notepad used when they signed in for study-related appointments and the other was not. Both groups took a test measuring their attitude towards Lipitor and a generic drug that is considered just as effective. The group exposed to promos favored Lipitor, the other did not.

The researchers concluded that “Our results provide evidence that subtle branding exposures are important and influential, as the psychology and marketing literature would suggest.” For anyone interested in improving health care quality and reducing health care costs, promos seem to be problematic at best. As far as proving their marketing effectiveness, though, it is pretty impressive. It’s easy to see that a refrigerator magnet could boost on campus pizza sales. A logo clipboard impacting soon-to-be doctors in ways that may influence their clinical judgment? Now that’s promo power.

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