Testimonial tool

A testimonial tool to help you comply with the National Law when advertising regulated health services

The Australian public is entitled to accurate and honest information about healthcare services. Any person or business that advertises a regulated health service1 has an obligation to make sure their advertising complies with the National Law2.

This testimonial tool is just one of the advertising resources that have been developed to help health practitioners and other advertisers meet their professional and legal obligations. It's a tool to help you get it right when deciding if a testimonial about your or your regulated health service is allowed under the National Law. It should be read in conjunction with other published resources.

1 Means a service provided by, or usually provided by, a health practitioner (as defined in the National Law).
2 The Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, as in force in each state and territory (the National Law).

Download a PDF  Testimonial tool (116 KB,PDF).

Testimonials in health advertising: A tool to help you get it right

Why are testimonials in advertising prohibited?

Under section 133(1)(c) of the National Law, a person must not advertise a regulated health service in a way that uses a testimonial or purported testimonial. This means the National Law does not allow the use of testimonials to advertise regulated health services or a business that provides a regulated health service.

‘Testimonial’ means a statement, review, view or feedback about a service received or provided. In the context of the National Law, a testimonial involves recommendations or positive statements about clinical aspects of a regulated health service.

The National Law defines a regulated health service as a service provided by, or usually provided by, a registered health practitioner. It is acknowledged that practitioners may offer additional services that are not considered regulated health services. If a review is not about a regulated health service then it is not covered by the National Law.

Advertising is the public promotion of a regulated health service to attract users to the health provider or encourage the use of the health provider’s service.

The National Law only bans testimonials used in advertising a regulated health service.

Testimonials are prohibited in advertising by registered health practitioners because:

  • they are often personal opinions and have no scientific or objective basis as a recommendation of a health practitioner’s services
  • the outcomes experienced by one patient do not necessarily reflect outcomes available to all consumers or the likely outcomes
  • they are not usually a balanced source of information, as they typically include a narrow selection of positive
    comments about patient experiences and therefore don’t tell the whole story about a practitioner’s services (i.e. they can be misleading), and
  • patients may place too much weight on testimonials because they do not have the expert knowledge to accurately assess the validity of the claims.

How to decide if a testimonial about you or your regulated health service is allowed under the National Law

The National Law does not stop consumers providing feedback or reviews in social or other media. Consumers are free to share their views and experiences online and elsewhere, for example, by posting a review.

For example, a review on a third party website or platform that the advertiser does not control is not considered advertising. An advertiser is not responsible for removing (or trying to have removed) testimonials published on a website or in social media over which they do not have control. However, a breach of the National Law may occur if a health service provider uses the review to advertise, by responding to the review or by re-publishing it on their website.

The person who is in control of the advertising of a regulated health service is responsible for ensuring that it meets the requirements of the National Law, including the prohibition on testimonials. Depending on the structure of a practice, the principal practitioner, practice owner, or director (in the case of a group practice) may be the person responsible for the practice’s advertising.

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How to decide if a testimonial about you or your regulated health service includes a clinical aspect

Advertising about a regulated health service is in breach of the National Law if it includes a testimonial (review, experience, comment and/or statement) that mentions a clinical aspect.

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For more information and other resources to help you check and correct your advertising so it complies with the National Law, see Advertising resources section.

Page reviewed 23/05/2018