Physician peer influence affects repeat prescriptions

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Physician peer influence affects repeat prescriptions

A study finds that peer influence among physicians can affect both trial and repeat prescription behavior of a risky new prescription drug.

The study, Social Contagion in New Product Trial and Repeat, tracks prescriptions of a new drug over 17 months, and measures the discussion and patient referral connections among physicians in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. The research was conducted by professors Raghuram Iyengar and Christophe Van den Bulte of the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia and Jae Young Lee of School of Business, Yonsei University, Seoul, Korea.

Conventional thinking suggests that repeat prescriptions are primarily dependent on users' experience. The authors observe that repeat prescriptions are apparently affected by physicians' peers. They suggest that peer influence is not only informational but can also be "normative."

Informational peer influence exists when people observe the behavior of their peers to learn about the new product's effectiveness or ease of use. Normative peer influence exists when people conform to others' expectations about accepted behavior.

"Whereas informational influence is likely to decrease or even vanish as people proceed from first-time to repeat use, normative influence need not decline at all and may even increase," says Raghuram Iyengar.

Those who are most influential differ between first-time and repeat use. Physicians, who are central in the social network and prescribe heavily, influence others in first-time use but not their repeat use. On the other hand, nearby colleagues influence repeat prescriptions.

Marketing Science, a journal of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS)

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Physician peer influence affects repeat prescriptions

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