According to the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency’s (AHPRA) advertising guidelines, a regulated health service, or a business providing a regular health service must not advertise in a way that:
1. Is or is likely to be false, misleading or deceptive
Misleading or deceiving a person could include lying to them, leading them to an incorrect conclusion, giving a false impression, leaving out or hiding key information, and/or making false or inaccurate claims.
2. Offers a gift, discount or other inducement without stating the terms and conditions of the offer
All terms and conditions stated in the advertisement must be in plain English, easily understandable to a layperson, accurate and not misleading about the offered service or product. The terms and conditions stated in the advertisement must also not be unclear or unreadable
3. Uses testimonials about the business or service
Testimonials, which are recommendations or statements made about the clinical aspects of a regulated health service, must not be used on websites controlled by health practitioners to advertise their own regulated health services. This includes comments made by patients about the practitioner on a health practitioner’s website, a health practitioner’s business website, or any social media pages controlled by the health practitioner.
4. Creates an unreasonable expectation of beneficial treatment
For example, advertisements cannot provide incomplete or biased information associated with the treatment, fail to disclose risks or omit the warning statement about surgical or invasive procedures.
5. Encourages indiscriminate or unnecessary use of a regulated health service, whether directly or indirectly
This includes advertising time-limited offers which encourage the public to make decisions under pressure, bulk discounts, or deals and offers that encourage consumers to use the health service regardless of clinical need or therapeutic benefit.
6. Uses professional qualifications to endorse therapeutic goods
Including a health practitioner’s professional qualifications in the same advertisement that also promotes the use or supply of therapeutic goods may constitute professional endorsement of therapeutic goods, which is prohibited under the Therapeutic Goods Advertising Code 2007.
For more information, download a copy of AHPRA’s Guidelines For Advertising Regulated Health Services here.