Do Side-Effect Warnings Make You Feel Safe?

October 30, 2013 | by DoctorSolve

Side Effect WarningsPractically every type of medication on the market today comes with a warning label. While the FDA requires many of the warnings to be listing on the packaging, drug manufactures hope that these warnings improve customer’s confidence in their product rather than deter them from purchasing it. A set of researchers recently performed a study to determine how consumers react to these dire warning labels and to see if the warnings stopped them from purchasing the product.

The Study: Whether Side Effect Warnings Impacted a Purchase
This was a joint study performed by Tel Aviv University, New York University, and Singapore-based INSEAD School. The study tracked consumers purchasing habits. There were four types of medications and products used during this study:

  • Cigarettes
  • Hair loss medication
  • Artificial sweetener
  • Drug for erectile dysfunction


In some cases, the participants were provided with the list of side effects that were associated with the medication or product, and were then instantly given the opportunity to purchase the products. In other cases, the participants were given or told the list of side effects for a medication or products and then had a few days to think about whether or not they would like to the product.

The Results of the Study
The results were published in the Psychological Science journal compiled by the Association of Psychological Science. The study showed that the participants who were provided with the list of side effect warnings, right before having the option to purchase the product, were more hesitant to buy it. However, participants who had a delay before they needed to make a decision about purchasing the products were more likely to buy the product.

A lead researcher in this study, Ziv Cameron form INSEAD, stated that “the warnings backfired because the psychological distance created by the delay between exposure to the ad and the customer decision made the side effects seem abstract—participants came to see the warning as an indication of the firm’s honesty and trustworthiness.”

You may not think this is a small matter, but researchers consider this a crucial health issue. Consumers literally did not consider the list of dangerous side effects bad enough to prevent them from using the product. This may be just the news that the drug manufacturers were hoping for, but the health industry may not be so happy. A push for doctors to provide patients with more information about potential side effects may be helpful. Most professionals in the medical field advice all of the patients to completely read the list of side effect before taking any medication or using products regulated by the FDA.

Do side effect warnings impact whether you make a purchase? Let us know in the comment box below.

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