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Study: Advertising ethics need improving

Article-Study: Advertising ethics need improving

Loma Linda, Calif. — A new study suggests that there’s room for improvement when it comes to Internet advertising ethics in the plastic and cosmetic surgery industry, although core specialists were found to have adopted strict guidelines.

Focusing on a 120-mile radius encompassing San Diego and Los Angeles, researchers from Loma Linda University Medical Center compiled a list of medical providers who offer cosmetic procedures and advertise them on their websites. Researchers evaluated the websites and scored them on the basis of advertising ethical codes adopted by the American Medical Association, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, Medscape reports.

Investigators found that 1,307 of the 2,001 cosmetic providers in the region advertised on websites. They further found that of the 22 medical specialties that offer cosmetic services, 18 had an available code of ethics and only seven of them specifically addressed ethical advertising. The four core cosmetic specialties — dermatology, ophthalmology, otolaryngology and plastic surgery — all addressed ethical advertising and required that members do not use deceptive or misleading credentials, photographs, statements or testimonials. Although seven specialties made efforts to provide guidance for ethical advertising, none were as descriptive or thorough as those advocated by ASAPS and ASPS.

Board-certified plastic surgeons had the highest ethical scores, followed by otolaryngologists, oromaxillofacial surgeons and ophthalmologists, according to Medscape.

“Although plastic surgeons demonstrate greater overall compliance with the ASAPS/ASPS Advertising Code of Ethics, they can continue to improve,” the study abstract states. “With the large variety of cosmetic physicians offering the same procedures, maintaining open, honest and forthright communication with the public is essential.”

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