What consumers need to know about advertising

To protect you the National Law is clear that regulated health services must not be advertised in certain ways. Find out more about what the National Law says on the legislation and guidelines page.

 What can I expect from my health practitioner’s advertising?

The National Law applies to advertising of a regulated health service, whether it’s by an individual or a business. This advertising should be easy to understand and accurate. Any claims made that certain treatment can help a health condition or your general health need to be based on acceptable evidence. Overall, the advertising should provide you with information so you can make informed decisions about your healthcare.

Unacceptable advertising includes advertising that:

  • Is false, misleading or deceptive. What practitioners can say in their advertising depends on whether there is acceptable evidence to support their claims. Most health practitioners advertise responsibly, but there are some who make claims that are not backed up by enough evidence.  

  • Offers a gift or discount related to the health service that does not stipulate terms and conditions.

  • Includes stories from patients who say that they were happy with their treatment or that the treatment worked for them. These are called testimonials and the law says practitioners can’t use them to advertise. 

  • Makes you think a certain treatment can help you in a way that may not be realistic or possible, for example, claiming to cure cancer. 

  • Encourages you to seek treatment you do not need, such as saying you need regular appointments just to stay healthy.

Remember, if you are concerned about the way a health practitioner or regulated health service provider is advertising, please let us know. You can report it as an offence to us.

Examples of unacceptable advertising

We have published examples of advertising claims common to all regulated health professions that don’t meet the legal requirements. While these resources have been published to help practitioners and include changes that would help this advertising to comply, they may also be a useful reference tool for consumers when considering advertising about a regulated health service or treatment option.

Testimonials and what they mean for consumers

We are often asked if testimonials are allowed and/or if consumers are able to discuss their experiences about a health practitioner publicly.

Advertisers can’t use testimonials to advertise a regulated health service.

However as a consumer, you can discuss your experiences about a registered health practitioner publicly, even on social media.

The Guidelines for advertising regulated health services and Social media policy are not intended to interfere with your right as a patient to express your healthcare experiences.

Some social media platforms like Facebook and Google can be used to advertise a regulated health service. If this advertising invites you to provide feedback about the service (testimonial), these are prohibited under the National Law and the advertiser (individual or business) will be asked to remove them.

Page reviewed 10/07/2019