American health citizens are burned out on risk communication from pharmaceutical companies. They’d prefer simpler approaches through websites like WebMD and icons like the Consumer Reports multishape “moons” to learn about health risks.

ORC Guideline
, an info GROUP company, identified a health risk information overload in their latest survey of American adults, conducted in late October 2009. The company presented data at the recent FDA meeting on promoting regulated medical products using the Internet and social media on November 13, 2009.

The top-line finding is that there’s an increase in the percent of Americans who feel there’s too much emphasis on risks in health product advertising. ORC found that 4 in 10 health consumers do not attend to risk information in print and TV ads for health products. Lack of attention to risk is greatest in the over-55 age cohort.

After health professionals (doctors, nurses), where 77% of Americans cite as a top source for prescription and disease information, the Internet is the second most popular source, cited by 59% of Americans — including 64% of younger adults 18-34, 57% of 35-54 year olds, and 42% of those over 55.

Social tools (networks online) are used by 22% of Americans overall, with a whopping 40% of people 18-34 finding social nets a top source for health information. Interestingly, 50% of the younger adult cohort of 18-34s also cites “traditional DTC” as a top source for prescription and disease information.

Health Populi’s Hot Points:
That the oldest age group of 55+ is most likely to lack attention to health risks in health product promotion is of major concern. This is the very group that is prescribed the most drugs per capita in managing the multiple chronic conditions that eventually creep up with age.

What to do? Keep it simple, and keep it engaging. Make it independent and elegantly informative. And, finally, make it a click away.