Method: College freshmen, third year college students, and either fifth year pharmacy students (schools of pharmacy) or first-year graduate students (liberal arts college) participated in the study (N=488). Two versions of a survey were developed for this study: one “viewer” version (group of students viewed a video containing 5 advertisements) and one “non-viewer” version (group of students who did not view the video).
Results: Viewers answered a higher number of technical questions correctly (11.2 vs. 7.0, n = 18, p< 0.05). The same was true for detailed questions related to Prempro (5.3 vs. 2.4, n = 8.0, p<0.05) and Celebrex (0.8 vs. 0.2, n = 1.0, p<0.05). Viewers, more than non-viewers, stated that medicines would not be advertised unless they were safe for everyone (13.3% vs. 6.7%, p<0.05) and they trusted the information in ads “some” or “a lot” (60.9% vs. 49.6%, p<0.05). Students midway through a pharmacy curriculum differed significantly from similarly placed students in the liberal arts program as to whether these advertisements made them think about health problems of their own or those close to them: 71.1% vs. 45.5%, p<0.05 (viewers), 64.9%, 31.6%, p<0.05 (non-viewers).
Conclusions: The viewing of an advertisement had a significant effect on a student's ability to correctly answer questions regarding drugs or drug development. Viewing of an ad also enhanced trust in its message. Differences in curriculum (pharmacy versus liberal arts) and exposure to pharmacy through employment did not have this effect, nor did these differences affect students' self-reported learning about a drug or evaluation of a specific advertisement.