Age is an important factor that can influence processing of and response to health messages. Many studies examining evaluations of and responses to direct-to-consumer prescription drug advertising (DTCA) have incorporated age as a predictor variable, moderating variable, or sample criterion. However, findings have been inconsistent. This study attempts to add clarity to this body of research by assessing age differences in the antecedent factors of various DTCA outcomes. A multigroup structural equation modeling analysis revealed several significant differences in variable relationships between older (50+) and younger (<50) adults. Overall, older adults exhibited greater complexity in their consideration of DTCA than younger adults in terms of the sheer number of significant relationships within the model. In particular, trust in mediated health information sources and trust in one's physician appeared to be more relevant predictors for older adults. Trust in DTCA was also distinguished as having an inverse relationship with behavioral intentions among older adults while showing a straightforward positive association with attention among younger adults. Further analysis indicated that health status accounted for some but not all of the age differences. It is suggested that younger adults are more open to seeking additional information following DTCA exposure, whereas older adults remain ambivalent.
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