What is the effect of the name of a medicine?

Easy-to-pronounce drug names result in increased dosage
The name of a drug has a significant impact on patient behavior. However, according to a recent study by psychologists at the University of Cologne, this also carries the risk of overdosing on medicines that have a particularly easy-to-pronounce name.

Previous research has already shown that drug names that can be pronounced fluidly without much difficulty, are enjoying increased popularity among patients, report Simone Dohle and colleagues from the Social Cognition Center Cologne( SoCCCo) of the University of Cologne. In their current study, the scientists were able to prove that the name of the drug name also influences the dosage behavior, which may be associated with considerable risks. The researchers published their study results in the journal "Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied".

The name of a drug has a far-reaching effect on the behavior of the patient.(Image: denisismagilov / fotolia.com)

Promoting potentially risky medical behavior?
In their current study, scientists investigated possible associations between the so-called "processing fluency" of drug names and the dosing behavior of patients. According to the researchers, the question also arose as to whether a high processing liquid leads to a potentially dangerous medical behavior. In two controlled experiments, it has been shown that the drug dose used increases with easily pronounceable drug names.

Increased Simple-Name Dosage
While complex drug names are more likely to be associated with an increased risk of dangerous side effects, easy-to-pronounce terms may seem to promote triviality of the drugs. Thus, in the first experiment of the Cologne psychologists has shown, "that drugs with a fluent name are perceived as safer than those with disfluent names," report Dohle and colleagues. This effect has led to increased drug dosing of both synthetic and herbal medicines. In a second experiment, the researchers found that people choose a higher drug dosage for themselves and a child if the drug has a fluent pronounceable name.

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Prolonged effect of drug names
"Our results indicate that the name of a drug is a strong predictor of dosing behavioris ", emphasize the scientists. Apparently, ineffable drugs are considered riskier, while easily pronounceable names are associated with more gentle medicines. According to the latest study results, this also has an effect on the dosage of the medication used. Therefore, "drugs with strong side effects have quite complicated names," the study leader is quoted by the "Süddeutsche Zeitung".This reduces the risk of patients taking too much of it.

Complicated Drug Names Deterred
Experts explain the effect of the drug name on dosage with the ease of information processing, which is much more difficult with a bulky drug name. This tends to lead to a rejection due to the increased information expense. In the case of catchy, easily pronounceable drug names, however, the opposite effect can be seen.(fp)

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