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Aims and objective. To investigate the amount, type and accuracy of citations use in support of product related claims from advertisements of wound care products.
Background. Although articles submitted to most medical journals are subjected to peer review, such scrutiny is often not required for the content of advertisements.
Design. A contents survey of advertisements from two wound care journals (Journal of Wound Care and Ostomy Wound Management) from 2002-2003 and the British Medical Journal, 2002-2003. Methods. Data collected from advertisements included identification of product related claims made and any corresponding citations. Where journal articles were cited to support claims, the articles were obtained. Where data on file were cited, this material was requested. In each case the accuracy of claims in relation to the content of the supporting citation was assessed.
Results. The use of citations to support product related claims was infrequent in advertisements from wound care journals, where 35% of advertisements containing a product related claim also contained at least one citation, compared with 63% of advertisements from the British Medical Journal. Of citations that were supplied, journal articles were less common in the wound journals (40% vs. 73% in the British Medical Journal) and data on file more common (38% vs. 6% in the British Medical Journal). Where journal articles were obtained, 56% of claims in the wound care journals advertisements were not supported by the cited article, compared with 12% of claims in the British Medical Journal.
Conclusion. The wound journals advertised predominantly medical devices. The use and accuracy of referencing in advertisements from wound care journals was poor. Relevance to clinical practice. Nurses have increasing responsibilities for the prescribing of both drugs and devices, which must be accompanied by the ability to interpret marketing materials and research evidence critically. Nurse educators must ensure that nurse education generally and nurse prescriber training particularly, builds skills of information retrieval and critical appraisal.