Impact of the Internet and Advertising on Patients and Physicians, 2000-2001: [United States] (ICPSR 3994)

Principal Investigator(s): Lo, Bernard, University of California-San Francisco


This study investigated public reactions and physicians' views on the effects of direct-to-consumer advertising (DTCA) of prescription medications and health information on the Internet. To this end, separate surveys of the general public (Part 1) and physicians (Part 2) were conducted. The Survey of the Public collected data on demographics, health status, health insurance coverage, perceived quality of medical care, sources of medical information, and attitudes toward and experience with DTCAs and health information on the Internet. Respondents who had seen a DTCA or health information on the Internet in the past 12 months, perceived it as personally relevant, and discussed it with their physician were asked about the last time they had done this, e.g., whether they scheduled the doctor visit specifically because they wanted to discuss information they got from the Internet, whether, during or after the visit, the doctor diagnosed them with the disease or medical condition that a DTCA related to, and whether or not their physician ordered a test, changed their medication or treatment, or referred them to a specialist when they talked about a DCTA during the visit. Similarly, the Survey of Physicians explored the most recent occasion when physicians talked to a patient about information the patient found on the Internet or obtained from a DTCA. Physicians expressed their views on the impact of this information on health outcomes, health service utilization, and the physician-patient relationship. Additional topics covered by the Survey of Physicians included the role physicians played in their patients' health care decisions and role they would like to play in these decisions, physicians' use of the Internet for purposes related to the practice of medicine, and physicians' practice profiles, income, age, race, and Hispanic origin. The data from the Survey of Physicians include variables from the American Medical Association's (AMA) master files such as sex, type of medical specialty, and year of graduation from medical school.

Access Notes

  • One or more files in this data collection have special restrictions ; consult the restrictions note to learn more. You can apply online for access to the restricted-use data. A login is required to apply.

    As explained in the ICPSR Processing Note in the Codebook for the Survey of Physicians (DS2), a number of variables in the Survey of Physicians are restricted from general dissemination for reasons of confidentiality. Users interested in obtaining these data must complete an Agreement for the Use of Confidential Data, specify the reasons for the request, and obtain IRB approval or notice of exemption for their research. Apply for access to these data through the ICPSR restricted data contract portal, which can be accessed via the study home page.

    Any public-use data files in this collection are available for access by the general public. Access does not require affiliation with an ICPSR member institution.


DS1:  Survey of the Public - Download All Files (9.411 MB)
DS2:  Survey of Physicians - Download All Files (3.132 MB)

Study Description


Lo, Bernard. Impact of the Internet and Advertising on Patients and Physicians, 2000-2001: [United States]. ICPSR03994-v1. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2004.

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This study was funded by:

  • Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (81114 and 81673)

Scope of Study

Subject Terms:    advertising, health services utilization, Internet, medical care, patients, physician patient relationship, physician practice, physicians, prescription drugs

Geographic Coverage:    United States

Time Period:   

  • 2000--2001

Date of Collection:   

  • 2000--2001

Universe:    Survey of the Public: Adults 18 years of age or older in telephone households in the continental United States (excluding Alaska and Hawaii). Survey of Physicians: Office- and hospital-based primary care physicians and specialists in the United States who spent at least 20 hours per week on direct patient care.

Data Type(s):    survey data


Sample:    Survey of the Public: Households were selected using stratified random-digit dialing. Within households, the adult with the most recent birthday was selected. "Sicker" adults -- respondents who described their health as fair or poor, or had a disability which prevented them from participating fully in school, work, or other activities, or were hospitalized in the last 12 months for reasons other than a normal birth delivery -- were oversampled. The sampling design produced a cross-section of 2,720 adults 18 years of age or older, plus a sample of 489 "sicker" adults. Survey of Physicians: A stratified random sample was selected from a national list of physicians derived from the AMA master files, which covered both AMA members and nonmembers.

Data Source:

Survey of the Public: Telephone interviews. Survey of Physicians: Mailback questionnaires and telephone interviews.


Original ICPSR Release:   2004-09-02

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