Finding out what people think about promotion, and what effect they think it has on them, is important because it can help us to develop relevant interventions. However, research on this topic cannot provide evidence about the actual effects of promotion. Promotion may affect people in ways that they do not know about, or are reluctant to tell others about.
This review describes studies that examine what people think about promotion. Studies about how people use promotion and other sources of drug information are not included here; these can be found in Review 2.
Research on attitudes to promotion relies heavily on survey methods. It tends to provide estimates of how many people agree with or disagree with certain statements, mostly about the appropriateness and effect of various forms of promotion. There are some more complex studies, which attempt to explore other variables associated with different attitudes to promotion. These try to find out what kinds of people have different opinions on promotion. Such studies are more useful.
There is little qualitative research on people’s attitudes to promotion, and this is a major gap. In order to understand people’s perspectives and values more clearly, in-depth interviews are needed. People should be express themselves in their own way about what they think about promotion and how it affects them. Ethnographic research, in which the researcher spends time with doctors and tries to understand how promotion fits into their working lives, would also be useful.