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September 15, 1978

Assessment of Value of Information for Patients

Author Affiliations

Alan Gross Communications New York

JAMA. 1978;240(12):1240. doi:10.1001/jama.1978.03290120034015

To the Editor.—  Morris et al (238:2504, 1977) reported findings of a survey sponsored by the Food and Drug Administration on the "effects of oral contraceptive patient information." As a supporter of the use of patient package inserts (PPIs) to assist patients in obtaining the maximum benefit from the drugs they take, I am compelled to cite disturbing problems with this report, both in study design and conclusions drawn.It is well known among opinion research practitioners that interviewees tend to reinforce what they think the questioner wants to hear. Therefore, great pains are taken in study design to conceal motives and thus elicit unbiased responses.Incredibly, the FDA's interview began with three provocative questions regarding the consumer's "right-to-know."1 These questions clearly "telegraph" the desired attitude expected by the interviewer and hence introduce a potential bias. How great this bias may be, alas, we will never know, for these