Beware of Advice From Dr. Oz Show and The Doctors, Study Warns
Anyone who relies on or believes the advice dished out by the hosts of the TV programs Dr. Oz Show and The Doctors may want to think twice. According to the findings of a new study from the University of Alberta (UB), one should be wary of the information because frequently there is little, no, or contradictory research to support it.
The Dr. Oz Show reaches about 3 million people in the United States alone and is broadcast to 118 countries, while The Doctors is a national syndicated show airing in more than 200 markets and peaked at about 2.3 million viewers in one day. In other words, these two health-related TV shows reach a lot of people, many of whom watch the programs regularly for the health and medical tidbits they hand out.
Unfortunately, much of what is recommended on these two shows is not reliable or is questionable, according to the new study. In fact, one of the study’s authors, Christina Korownyk, an associate professor in the Department of Family Medicine at UB, has noted that “The research supporting any of these recommendations is frequently absent, contradictory or of poor quality.”
It seems that doctors across the country and around the world are hearing their patients utter the words “I heard on the Dr. Oz Show” or “I heard on The Doctors” and then they want to take the advice. This phenomenon prompted the UB experts to conduct a thorough evaluation of the recommendations TV viewers were hearing and how valid they were.
The researchers recorded the programs from the Dr. Oz Show and The Doctors from January 2013 to April 2013 and randomly chose 40 episodes from each show. These episodes were watched and evaluated by several different teams of experts, and the most emphasized recommendations from each show were then analyzed further for supportive evidence.
This is what the researchers concluded:
- Two thirds of the recommendations stated on Dr. Oz Show did not have believable evidence to support them
- About half of the recommendations on The Doctors did not have believable supportive evidence
- Possible harm associated with the recommendations were mentioned 9.8 percent of the time on the Dr. Oz Show and 7.6 percent of the time on The Doctors
- Specific benefits of the recommendations were noted 42.6 percent of the time on the Dr. Oz Show and 41.3 percent of the time on The Doctors
- The cost of following the recommendations was mentioned 12.5 percent of the time for the Dr. Oz Show and 3.1 percent for The Doctors
- Of the 924 recommendations evaluated by the researchers, a potential conflict of interest by the presenter was mentioned in only 4 cases
So if you watch the Dr. Oz Show or The Doctors, the advice from Mike Allan, a colleague and fellow professor in the Department of Family Medicine at UB, is “to be skeptical of what you hear on these shows.” If you hear something that interests you, conduct your own research and talk to knowledgeable healthcare providers before you do or take anything. Or you may heed the other words of Allen, who said that perhaps these shows are “just there for entertainment.”