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Big Suppla: Challenging the Common View of the Supplements and Herbs Industry Affects the Willingness to Try and Recommend Their Products

PainSci » bibliography » Mijatović et al 2022
Tags: nutrition, self-treatment, treatment

One article on PainSci cites Mijatović 2022: Vitamins, Minerals & Supplements for Pain & Healing

PainSci commentary on Mijatović 2022: ?This page is one of thousands in the bibliography. It is not a general article: it is focused on a single scientific paper, and it may provide only just enough context for the summary to make sense. Links to other papers and more general information are provided wherever possible.

The term “Big Suppla” is a witty delivery mechanism for the truth bomb that debunks the underdog myth about the supplements industry. It’s quite clever. If Suppla is just as Big as Pharma… well, the whole point is that the implication is so clear that no further explanation is even required.

But does that reach people? Is it an effective debunking strategy? Mijatović et al. actually tested this, and the results were positive, huzzah! Minds were changed! This is a great relief for me to hear, because I started deploying “Big Suppla” in about 2006. Specifically, they tested the effect of this terminology by giving about 250 people three different kinds of information about the supplements industry:

The test results were better than science communicators could have hoped for. Not only did the “Big Suppla” framing change minds, but it even worked on some of the hardest targets: subjects who were prone to conspiratorial thinking. Those people were more likely to be keen on supplements to begin with, but they were still persuaded by “Big Suppla.” Perhaps it’s because this debunking method exploits the “follow the money” trope that practically defines conspiratorial thinking.

~ Paul Ingraham

original abstract Abstracts here may not perfectly match originals, for a variety of technical and practical reasons. Some abstacts are truncated for my purposes here, if they are particularly long-winded and unhelpful. I occasionally add clarifying notes. And I make some minor corrections.

Resorting to complementary/alternative medical (CAM) therapies can lead to bad health outcomes or interfere with officially recommended therapies. CAM use is, nevertheless, widespread and growing. This could be partially due to the perception of the CAM industry as powerless and non-profit oriented, in contrast to the pharmaceutical industry (“Big Pharma”). In reality, both industries are highly profitable and powerful; to highlight this similarity, science communicators coined the term “Big Suppla”. Drawing from a sample of 242 participants upon all exclusions, we experimentally tested whether varying these attributes in presenting the industries impacts consumers’ evaluation of the two categories of products (herbs and supplements) and their willingness to try and recommend them. We also tested whether the effect is moderated by conspiratorial thinking, and whether it is due to a change in trust. All hypotheses were pre-registered. As expected, participants who read the Big Suppla vignette decreased the endorsement of both supplements and herbs, whilst, against our hypotheses, there were no significant changes in endorsement in the contrasting “Baby Suppla” group. Conspiratorial thinking was related to more endorsement of CAM, but it did not moderate the experimental effects. We also did not observe the expected mediation by trust. Our most robust results corroborate the idea that challenging the myth of benevolence of the CAM industry makes people more critical in evaluating its products or considering their usage. They support the intuitions of science communicators who coined the term Big Suppla, and can help in tailoring public health messages.

This page is part of the PainScience BIBLIOGRAPHY, which contains plain language summaries of thousands of scientific papers & others sources. It’s like a highly specialized blog. A few highlights:

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