It’s a question we ask ourselves countless times a day.

Should I sprint across the street or wait for the light to change?

Should I push through the pain of an exercise or be gentle with myself?

Should I risk telling someone how I feel, or keep my counsel?

Malcolm Gladwell, in his book, Blink, talks about our innate ability to make assessments in the blink of an eye, it’s a prehistoric tool that has helped us assess whether to fight or flee to survive any perceived threats.

In today’s healthcare world, the abundance of information about medical conditions makes it difficult to quickly assess the risk/reward relationship of treatments and medications for mundane headaches to life-threatening illnesses.

 Illustration Molly Ferguson

Illustration Molly Ferguson

In my medical narration work, I often read important Safety Information (SI), or Fair Balance scripts, which highlight the risks involved with prescribing and/or taking medications, to offer a counterbalance to the benefits.

That little tiny pill you take to relieve your insomnia could relieve you of your life.

What’s the likelihood of that happening? Not high, but the U.S. Federal Drug Administration (FDA), which has authority over what is communicated to consumers about a drug, regulates information that can and cannot be shared with consumers so that a balanced picture of the risks and rewards is described.

Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) advertising, which historically covered broadcast and print, also includes internet media and online marketing activities.

Last year I wrote a blog post, Ask Your Doctor If This Ad Is Right For You, which explores some of these issues. I’ve also been interviewed for articles and an NPR Podcast for The Pulse: Between a Rock and a Hard Placethe section I’m featured in begins at 16:57. We explored the delicate balance of presenting this information in a way that’s audible — and not only do I mean not so fast that it’s unintelligible, but also spoken in a fashion that makes the content less scary and therefore easier to hear.

Check out the blog post, the article, and take a listen to the NPR interview, and next time I’ll explain how voiceover is used in both DTC (Direct to Consumer) and B2B (Business to Business) pharmaceutical marketing. I’ll also give you a list of questions you can ‘Ask Your Doctor’ the next time s/he prescribes a specific treatment.