The Questionable Practice of Research as Promotion

Cancer Center Ads Use Emotion More Than Fact (New York Times)

In our Marketing Research tutorial we discuss the growing use of marketing research as a promotional tool and note that ?While many companies claim the research supports their products, many of these claims may in fact be more fluff than substance since they are not grounded in good research methods.?

This story offers a nice example of exactly what we are talking about.? The story discusses how certain health care facilities are promoting the benefits of their work by citing what they claim is research, though the legitimacy of this work is questionable.? These facilities appear to be mixing internally compiled patient statistics with patient comments in order to present a positive spin for their services.? However, there is no third-party support for what is being reported and regulation of such claims is hard to come by as the U.S. Federal Government is limited in how they can handle such advertising messages.

If a drug maker ran an ad for a cancer medicine, Food and Drug Administration regulations would require the company to be able to support any superiority claims with substantial evidence from rigorous clinical studies. But federal agencies cannot limit the ad claims made by nonprofit medical centers about their ability to cure people of diseases like cancer, according to the government?s main ad regulator, the Federal Trade Commission.

Are there any ethical concerns with the way these facilities promote their services?