Marketing the research missions of academic medical centers: Why messages blurring lines between clinical care and research are bad for both business and ethics

Mark Yarborough, Timothy Houk, Sarah Tinker Perrault, Yael Schenker, Richard R. Sharp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Scopus citations


Academic Medical Centers (AMCs) offer patient care and perform research. Increasingly, AMCs advertise to the public in order to garner income that can support these dual missions. In what follows, we raise concerns about the ways that advertising blurs important distinctions between them. Such blurring is detrimental to AMC efforts to fulfill critically important ethical responsibilities pertaining both to science communication and clinical research, because marketing campaigns can employ hype that weakens research integrity and contributes to therapeutic misconception and misestimation, undermining the informed consent process that is essential to the ethical conduct of research. We offer ethical analysis of common advertising practices that justify these concerns. We also suggest the need for a deliberative body convened by the Association of American Medical Colleges and others to develop a set of voluntary guidelines that AMCs can use to avoid in the future, the problems found in many current AMC advertising practices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)468-475
Number of pages8
JournalCambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1 2019



  • Academic Medical Centers
  • Advertising practices
  • Clinical research
  • Informed consent
  • Marketing
  • Science communication
  • Therapeutic misconception

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Issues, ethics and legal aspects
  • Health(social science)
  • Health Policy

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