Main Article Content
Advertising, Cosmetic Surgery, Guidelines, Plastic Surgery, Website
Background: Changes in the marketing of plastic surgery services in Australia has resulted in more plastic surgeons advertising on personal professional websites. In May 2014 the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) published ‘Guidelines for advertising regulated health services’. This study evaluates the compliance of plastic surgeons with these advertising standards.
Method: The professional websites for all members of the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) were analysed using the AHPRA guidelines. Each website was assessed by two independent medical reviewers noting the use of deceptive advertising, gifts/discounts, comparison with other surgeons, website photos, inappropriate marketing phraseology to encourage surgery and the creation of unreasonable expectations.
Results: Over 80 per cent of ASPS members are fully compliant with the AHPRA guidelines. Less than one per cent of surgeons listed information considered to be misleading, deceptive, or creating unreasonable expectations. Gifts or discounts were offered by 5.8 per cent, 5.5 per cent used inappropriate marketing phraseology, 4.9 per cent made comparisons with other surgeons and 1.3 per cent had website photos that did not comply with recommended guidelines. Thirty-four per cent of surgeons were on Facebook, 20.4 per cent on Twitter and 19.4 per cent on Instagram. Of NSW surgeons, 13.8 per cent of had inappropriate website photos. Approximately 19 per cent of surgeons in WA and SA used inappropriate marketing to encourage surgery.
Conclusion: The majority of ASPS members are compliant with the national advertising guidelines. Regional non-compliance with specific areas was noted suggesting targeted education may be of benefit.
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