The impact of drug information on the prescribing of drugs

  • B. Strickland-Hodge

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Using prescription analyses and questionnaires, the way drug information was used by general medical practitioners during the drug adoption process was studied. Three new drugs were considered; an innovation and two 'me-too' products. The innovation was accepted by general practitioners via a contagion process, information passing among doctors. The 'me-too' preparations were accepted more slowly and by a process which did not include the contagion effect.
'Industrial' information such as direct mail was used more at the 'awareness' stage of the adoption process while 'professional' sources of information such as articles in medical journals were used more to evaluate a new product. It was shown that 'industrial' information was preferred by older single practice doctors who did not specialise, had a first degree only and who did not dispense their own prescriptions.
Doctors were divided into early and late-prescribers by using the date they first prescribed the innovatory drug. Their approach to drug information sources was further studied and it was shown that the early-prescriber issued slightly more prescriptions per month, had a larger list size, read fewer journals and generally rated industrial sources of information more highly than late-prescribers.
The prescribing habits of three consultant rheumatologists were analysed and compared with those of the general practitioners in the community which they served. Very little association was noted and the influence of the consultant on the prescribing habits of general practitioners was concluded to be low. The consultants influence was suggested to be of two components, active and passive; the active component being the most influential. Journal advertising and advertisement placement were studied for one of the 'me-too' drugs. It was
concluded that advertisement placement should be based on the reading
patterns of general practitioners and not on ad-hoc data gathered by
representatives as was the present practice.
A model was proposed relating the 'time to prescribe' a new drug to the variables suggested throughout this work. Four of these variables were shown to be significant. These were, the list size, the medical age of the prescriber, the number of new preparations prescribed in a given time and the number of partners in the practice.
Date of AwardAug 1979
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorT.J. Bradley (Supervisor)


  • drug information
  • innovation
  • drug-adoption
  • prescribing

Cite this