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Access Type

WSU Access

Date of Award

January 2016

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Department

Sociology

First Advisor

HEATHER E. DILLAWAY

Abstract

Internet Direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical advertising (DTCPA) continues to be an important, popular and rising platform for pharmaceutical companies to market their products to consumers. The purpose of this study was to determine how traditional oral contraceptive pills (OCPs) are portrayed on the pharmaceutical websites during Internet DTCPA. This study also looked to see how women’s bodies and the process of menstruation were medicalized on these websites. Eight traditional OCP websites were analyzed using a qualitative content analysis. The findings suggest that website characteristics such as color, slogans, consumer incentives, images and videos are created in a strategic manner to show consumers about the positive and fail-proof aspects of the OCPs. Benefits such as pregnancy prevention, menstrual management and low amount of hormones took priority over the risks/side-effects of OCPs on the websites. The only risks/side-effects that were emphasized on the websites were the warnings given to smokers who might be using the OCPs or will begin to use the OCPs. Medicalization was also present during the Internet DTCPA of traditional OCPs. The results demonstrate that menstruation is defined through a symptomatic lens on the websites as being heavy, long, unpredictable and painful. Treatment of menstruation is encouraged to achieve main benchmarks such as a shorter period, a lighter period and a more predicable period. The role of doctors continues to be that of experts who will provide women with treatments using the OCPs to manage their menstrual cycles.

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