Harris Poll Study Links Emotional Connection to Physicians™ Trust in Pharmaceutical Products

New York, N.Y. – January 22, 2013 – The Harris Poll Physician Pulse? survey of American physicians documents the convergence of functional, emotional, and relationship-based attributes in determining the prescription products physicians trust and why. In the latest study, Actonel®, Advair®, Enbrel®, Humira®, Mirena®, and Spiriva® join the ranks of the top branded pharmaceuticals in Harris Interactive’s pioneering index of physician trust.

The study surveys primary-care physicians and specialists about their prescribing behaviors and ranks key pharmaceutical treatments, based on the Harris Poll multi-dimensional Trust Index. The components of the Index relate to the drug itself (Familiarity, Function, and Connection) as well as to the pharmaceutical companies that produce it (Company and Representatives).

This wave of the study focuses on five high-volume prescription categories: Asthma, COPD, Osteoporosis, Pregnancy Prevention, and Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). The top-ranked brands in each category (with a maximum score of 100) are:

  • Advair® (82) for Asthma, followed by Symbicort® (80);
  • Spiriva® (84) for COPD, followed by Advair (80), Symbicort (79), and Combivent® (72);
  • Actonel® (71) for Osteoporosis, with Evista® (69), Forteo® (69), Prolia® (69), and Reclast® (69) all not far behind;
  • Mirena® (80) for Pregnancy Prevention, followed by NuvaRing® (76), Lo LoEstrin® (74), and Depo-Provera® (71);
  • Enbrel ® and Humira® tie for the highest ranked in RA (83), followed by Remicade® (76), Orencia® (74), and Rituxan® (73).

Trust Drives Business

The reason for the study’s focus on trust is that brands associated with high levels of trust are more likely to be endorsed, recommended, and prescribed by physicians. And when it comes to driving trust, emotional connection, relationships with sales representatives, and perceptions of the pharmaceutical company or companies backing the product can be just as influential factors as the attributes of the product itself. In short, explains Harris Interactive Senior Vice President of Healthcare Research Joseph Vorrasi, Our research clearly demonstrates that trust is about much more than efficacy alone. The importance of the emotional component is further borne out by the consistency with which the study’s trust leaders are shown to distinguish themselves on emotional measures in addition to functional ones.

Furthermore, this relationship between physicians’ trust in a treatment and the likelihood to prescribe it can present an opportunity to transfer that trust from a single product to an overarching brand or franchise. This comes as good news to parent companies of treatments scoring well on the index. In this respect, makers of the category leaders, Abbott (Humira), Amgen (Enbrel), Bayer (Mirena), Boehringer Ingelheim (Spiriva), GSK (Advair), Pfizer (Enbrel and Spiriva), and Warner Chilcott (Actonel), all stand to benefit from the strong trust in their products in ways that can bolster perceptions of their franchise presence and corporate reputations.


What Differentiates the Products Highest Ranked in Trust?

Despite interesting and notable differences across treatment categories, the products top-ranked for physician trust show some common characteristics. In an analysis focused on this wave’s five product categories, trust leaders tended to outperform the competition by being perceived as offering one or more unique functional benefits, connecting with physicians on an emotional level, and by being backed by strong thought leadership. This mirrors the mass migration of the pharmaceutical industry toward better managing relationships, customer experiences, and corporate reputation in addition to touting indication and functional performance. Ultimately, what the study shows is that by nurturing the right perceptions, in addition to demonstrating efficacy, companies can drive physician trust in their products and the long-term prescribing commitment associated with it.


Trust Index Validated Across Therapeutic Categories

This wave of research continues to extend the trust index across a wide variety of therapeutic contexts – from elective lifestyle treatments to potentially life-threatening disease states – and by documenting how the interplay of clinical and non-clinical perceptions influences treatment choices, the study is well on its way to becoming the largest analytical database of trust in prescription treatments available. Furthermore, by not only establishing the trust leaders but also exploring the underlying sentiments leading to trust and individual brands’ scores on those factors, the learnings from this research could be a game changer for both leading brands and those not currently making the grade.

Across a diverse and growing set of therapeutic categories, we’ve been able to document that emotional connection to a product and the relational strengths of companies and representatives can be almost as important as the product’s functional characteristics in driving trust and, ultimately, preference and prescribing, says Vorrasi.

About Harris Poll Physician Pulse ?

The Harris Poll Physician Pulse? study asks physicians and specialists – including allergists, pulmonologists, OBGYNs and rheumatologists – about their prescribing behaviors and ranks key pharmaceutical treatments, based on the Harris Poll multi-dimensional Trust Index. This index measures the five key components of physician trust and, based on the study results, is shown to be highly predictive of prescribing intent.

Harris Interactive conducted a 35-minute, online survey among U.S. physicians September 27 – October 10, 2012. A total of 1,034 respondents were recruited from the Harris Physician Panel and supplemented as necessary using a Harris-approved vendor, including 260 Primary Care Physicians and 774 Specialists (104 Allergists, 207 Pulmonologists, 262 OBGYNs, and 201 Rheumatologists ).

Quotas were set to ensure a minimum of 200 physicians (100 PCPs and 100 specialists) were aware of each brand and therefore would be able to answer the questions related to their areas of expertise. Other controls were put in place to ensure accuracy, such as requiring physicians to be licensed in the state where they are practicing, and that they meet the specific patient criteria, as appropriate. Data were weighted to be representative of category prescribing behavior.

A full listing of the pharmaceutical treatments that performed above the category average in their respective categories can be found here.

The first Physician Pulse study, conducted in May 2012, surveyed primary-care physicians and specialists, including psychiatrists, urologists and endocrinologists, about Anti-depressants (ADP), Anti-psychotics (APS), Erectile Dysfunction (ED) and Non-insulin Diabetes Treatments (NID).

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.


The Harris Poll Physician Pulse ? study results disclosed in this release may not be used for advertising, marketing or promotional purposes without the prior written consent of Harris Interactive.


Product and brand names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners.

For a complete listing of all the treatments covered in the study, contact Corporate Communications at 212-539-9600 or [email protected].



About Harris Interactive

Harris Interactive is one of the world’s leading market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll® and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers proprietary solutions in the areas of market and customer insight, corporate brand and reputation strategy, and marketing, advertising, public relations and communications research. Harris possesses expertise in a wide range of industries including health care, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods. Additionally, Harris has a portfolio of multi-client offerings that complement our custom solutions while maximizing our client’s research investment. Serving clients in more than 196 countries and territories through our North American and European offices, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help us – and our clients-stay ahead of what’s next. For more information, please visit www.harrisinteractive.com.