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26.06.2019 | Review Article

Direct-to-consumer advertising for robotic surgery

Journal of Robotic Surgery
Dominique Thomas, Brent Medoff, Jennifer Anger, Bilal Chughtai
Wichtige Hinweise

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.


Direct-to-consumer advertising is described as the promotion or marketing of a product directly from the seller to the consumer. We examined whether websites on Google™ provided clinical data or referenced peer-reviewed publications as part of their advertising in relation to the urological procedures. We created an electronic database for clinical direct-to-consumer advantages and/or disadvantages using the search terms “robotic sacrocolpopexy”, “robotic prostatectomy”, “robotic nephrectomy” and “robotic cystectomy” on the first 3 pages of Google™. Advertising was then classified based on presentation of: advantages only, disadvantages only, and both advantages and disadvantages. We further classified the information based on whether peer-reviewed references were present on the webpages and the type of Google webpage. A total of 25 websites were found to have information on advantages and disadvantages of robotic sacrocolpopexy. Most of these websites with advantages only provided references for their claims (n = 29%), while 71% of websites with both advantages and disadvantages provided references. When reviewing the content on the websites with advantages only, we found the following most common advantages: shorter recovery time, decreased blood loss, and less pain. We found the results to be nearly identical for each procedure. Direct-to-consumer advertising is common among robotic surgery. There is significant bias promoted on the benefit of robotic surgery regardless of the web-based source of information. The AMA Ethics Committee suggests that we need to further elucidate the impact of direct-to-consumer advertising on patient health and medical care. Websites should follow the AMA code to present balanced information to better inform patients about expectations.

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