Celebrity endorsements can influence healthcare use
medwireNews: Announcements by high-profile public figures can be a low cost and effective means of delivering healthcare messages to a broad audience, say researchers who found an immediate increase in BRCA testing rates following the publication of Angelina Jolie’s editorial in The New York Times urging women to consider BRCA1/2 testing.
The current study, reported in the Christmas issue of The BMJ, included data on 9,532,836 women aged 18–64 years who had claims in the Truven MarketScan Analytics Commercial Claims and Encounters Database.
The team noted a “large and immediate” increase in daily rates of BRCA testing in the 15 business days following publication of the editorial on 14 May 2013, at 1.13 tests per 100,000 women compared with 0.71 per 100,000 women in the 15 days before publication.
By contrast, the rates were comparable during the same period in 2012, at 0.58 and 0.55 per 100,000 women in the 15 days before and after 14 May, respectively.
The overall monthly rates of mastectomy remained stable after publication, and indeed, among women who underwent BRCA testing, 60-day mastectomy rates fell from 10% in the months before publication to 7% in the months after.
This finding indicates that “additional BRCA testing induced by the editorial probably did not identify new BRCA mutations requiring preventive mastectomy,” say Sunita Desai and Anupam Jena, both from Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
They continue: “This also suggests that celebrity announcements can reach a broad audience but may not effectively target the population that would benefit most from the test.”
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