Note: This advice is given by the CAP Executive about non-broadcast advertising. It does not constitute legal advice. It does not bind CAP, CAP advisory panels or the Advertising Standards Authority.
Any claim that a particular therapy can diagnose, treat, help with or cure a medical condition is unlikely to be acceptable unless the advertiser is considered suitably qualified to diagnose or treat that symptom or condition (Rule 12.2) and holds robust evidence to support the efficacy claim (Rule 12.1).
CAP understands that advertisers whose clientele include those who suffer from illness often find it challenging to explain the service they offer while not falling foul of the Code. In this advice, we have listed some of the types of claims submitted to Copy Advice and demonstrate how small changes can change the acceptability of an claim.
“Reflexology can be used by people suffering from any medical condition”
“Aromatherapy massage can help people suffering from insomnia”
“I treat people suffering from Cancer and fertility problems”
"Many of my clients suffer from depression, especially in winter, and find that Shiatsu can help lift their mood”
“During a Craniosacral therapy session the therapist relieves any restrictions in the flow of cerebral spinal fluid around the body, thereby alleviating medical conditions including arthritis and many others”
“Reflexology can be enjoyed by people of all ages, from children through to the elderly”
“Aromatherapy massage can aid restful sleep”
“Some of my clients include people suffering from Cancer. They find that the soothing, calming and relaxing nature of the therapy assists their emotional wellbeing during this difficult time”
“Many of my clients find Shiatsu excellent for improving their mood”
“Craniosacral Therapy is based on the belief that by feeling the intrinsic flow of the craniosacral rhythm the therapist can improve the wellbeing of clients, and help them to relax”
For sensory-type claims, evidence in the form of a testimonial is likely to be acceptable. As with all advertising, the ASA considers claims in the context within which they are made.
Marketers can use the AdviceOnline database to search for advice on individual therapies where they are available.
Also see: CAP Guidance on Substantiation for health, beauty and slimming claims and CAP Guidance of Ads that reference medical conditions.