Using Emotions of Fear or Hope to Sell Cancer Treatments

Our website, http://www.cacare.com has this opening sentences:

CANCER ! Don’t panic ! Haste is from the Devil ~ Arab saying.

Why do you visit this website? We believe you are seeking information to enable you or your loved ones to make certain decisions about his/her cancer. Our advice is: Read as much as possible. Gather information from different sources. Cast your net wider and read what others from different disciplines have to say about the same subject. Get out of the box and view your problem in a different light.

Often, in the face of fear, hopelessness and panic we forget to use our commonsense. Calm down. A decision made in haste or under pressure is never a good decision. Remember, you don’t get cancer just only yesterday.

When we go to the hospital, we go with full faith and trust. We believe that the doctors have our best interests in their hearts – after all,  medicine is a noble profession! Unfortunately medicine has morphed into something else today!

The treatment of disease is not a science … but a thriving industry ~ Sir James Barr, Vice President, British Medical Association.

Physicians are called to service, to put patients’ good above our own. That’s a very spiritual calling. But with … making medicine a business, we’re … losing that sense of purpose and meaning ~ Christina Puchalski, professor of medicine, George Washington University. Reader’s Digest Sept. 2001.

People go where the money is, and you’d like to believe it’s different in medicine, but it’s really no different in medicine. When you start thinking of oncology as a business, then all these decisions make sense ~ Dr. Robert Geller, oncologist. New York Times, 12 June 2007 by Alex Beresen.

On the morning of 31 May 2014, I woke up to read the following titles in the internet! It is sad. But this is the reality of the medical industry! Please read these …

1. Cancer Ads Focus On Emotion, Not Facts: Are Consumers Being Misled About Treatment Options?

  • Advertisements released by U.S. cancer centers in magazines and on TV may be delivering the wrong message.
  • The grueling battle with cancer is one that many people undergo with little knowledge already at-hand. Popular outlets such as TV and magazines may prove unhelpful in that regard … these ads focus more on emotion than on facts.
  • Consumers gain little information about treatment costs, risks, or even its benefits in concrete, quantitative terms.
  • If the ads were anything to go by, the data suggests that patients would hope for survival rather than evaluate their chances.

http://www.medicaldaily.com/cancer-ads-focus-emotion-not-facts-are-consumers-being-misled-about-treatment-options-284828 

2. Analysis Shows Advertising by Cancer Centers Frequently Evokes Hope and Fear, but Provides Little Information.

  • Advertisements frequently promoted cancer therapy with emotional appeals that evoked hope and fear, while rarely providing information about risks, benefits, costs, or insurance availability. The researchers suggest that the ads may lead patients to pursue care that is either unnecessary or unsupported by scientific evidence.
  • Pursuit of unnecessary tests or treatment may … expose patients to avoidable risks and contribute to increasing costs.

http://www.ascopost.com/ViewNews.aspx?nid=16259

3. Nine of 10 cancer center ads use emotional fluff to attract patients, with little mention of success rates, risks or cost.

Cancer centers and hospitals are competing for your business …. Many cancer charities use the same methods to raise money, which I discuss in my most popular video.

http://www.chrisbeatcancer.com/cancer-center-ads-use-emotional-appeals/

4. Cancer Center Ads Use Emotion, Promise Cure.

  • In their advertisements to the general public, cancer centers in the US use emotional appeals that evoke hope and fear, and rarely provide information about risks, benefits, costs … The approach may lead to unrealistic expectations and inappropriate treatments, it warns.

Emotional appeals were a cornerstone of most ads …. Most stressed survival or potential for cure rather than comfort, quality of life, or patient-centered care.

http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/825701

5.  Study: Cancer ads tug at heartstrings, leave out caveats.

  • Advertisements for cancer centers are inflated with emotions, but fail to disclose the fine print….
  • A systematic content analysis of these ads found that the content is sharply directed at a would-be patient’s heartstrings:
  • 85% made emotional appeals to consumers
    b.  61% used language about hope, extension of life, or a cure
    c.  52% touted innovative, or advanced technology or treatments
    d. 30% evoked fear by mentioning death, fear, or loss.
  • Noticeably missing from most of the TV and magazine ads is information about the risks, scientific-supported benefits and cost:
  • a.  2% disclosed the risks of the cancer treatment
    b.  5% mentioned cost of treatment
  • Emotion-based advertisement is a powerful means of persuasion and potentially harmful to the consumer.

http://thechart.blogs.cnn.com/2014/05/26/study-cancer-ads-tug-at-heartstrings-leave-out-caveats/comment-page-1/

6. Cancer Center Advertisements Focus on Emotional Appeals. 

MedicalResearch: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report? 

Dr. Schenker: Cancer center advertisements are increasingly common.  I think it is important for clinicians and patients to be aware of the focus on survival and potential cure in these advertisements, as well as the use of emotional appeals.  I would encourage patients to seek more complete and balanced sources of information – and to talk with a trusted physician – when facing important decisions about their cancer care.

http://medicalresearch.com/cancer-_-oncology/cancer_center_advertisements_focus_on_emotional_appeals/5545/

The above comments came about as a result of research conducted by Vater et al and published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, 27 May 2014,  What Are Cancer Centers Advertising to the Public?: A Content Analysis.

A total of 102 cancer centers placed 409 unique clinical advertisements in top media markets in 2012. They found out that the:

  • Advertisements promoted treatments (88%) more often than screening (18%) or supportive services (13%).
  • Benefits of advertised therapies were described more often than risks (27% vs. 2%) but were rarely quantified (2%).
  • Few advertisements mentioned coverage or costs (5%).
  • Emotional appeals were frequent (85%), evoking hope for survival (61%), describing cancer treatment as a fight or battle (41%), and inducing fear (30%).
  • Nearly one half of advertisements included patient testimonials, which were usually focused on survival, rarely included disclaimers (15%), and never described the results that a typical patient may expect. 

The Journal’s editorial weighed in with more comments:

  • In her classic essay, Illness as Metaphor, Susan Sontag suggested that the negative metaphor and myths surrounding cancer increase the suffering of patients.
  • Vater and colleagues ….found that … benefits of advertised therapies were emphasized more often than risks, and specific data were rarely given.
  • Appeals were largely emotional rather informational, sometimes seemed to equate treatment with cure and most often focused on survival rather than comfort or quality of life.
  • The authors suggest that the focus may contribute to unrealistic expectations about treatment benefits among patients with cancer … and may even lead to inappropriate treatments.

Almost every day I have people writing or coming to me asking for help about their cancer. This is my advice, no matter who you go to – medical doctor or alternative practitioner.

If you are asked to undergo any treatment, ask the following questions first (don’t be led by the nose):

a. Can the treatment cure your cancer?

b. If the answer is “Yes”, better think a million times before you take the recommended path! My experience shows there is no such thing as a cure!

c. If you are told you have a 60 percent chance of success, make sure that you understand what this percentage means to you. Know that only 6 out of 10 patient succeed! Success may not mean anything! What is it, cure? Know that that this statistics may not apply to you at all. Six succeeded but how sure that you belong to the 6 and not the 4 who failed?

d. Patients tell me that often they get these answers when they ask about their cancer of cure: Ask God!  or  We shall try and see. Such answers imply that you are in the game of luck, not science anymore.

e. Another favourite answer is, No cure, but can prolong life. Ask, prolong life for how long? Some drugs only prolong life by a few days, a few weeks or a few months, rarely years!

f. Even if the treatment prolongs life, it comes with a great cost in terms of side effects and money. Decide, if the extra time of being alive (but ended up being a vegetable) is worth it?

g. Ask about the side effects of the treatment. Very often the “bad effects” are toned down! Some don’t want to even tell you about them! It is wise to visit the oncology ward of the hospital and see for yourself  (and ask) those who have undergone the treatments. Check about treatment by reading what others say in the internet.

h. Ask about the total cost of the treatment. It is foolish to proceed with the treatment half way and then found later that you don’t have to enough money to complete the journey!

Advertisements