December 19, 2014

BMJ: About 50% of Dr. Oz's recommendations are baseless or wrong

Daily Briefing

About half of the health claims that appear on two medical TV talk shows—"The Dr. Oz Show" and "The Doctors"—are incorrect or have not been supported by scientific study, a new study in BMJ finds.

For the study, Canadian researchers analyzed health claims made on 40 randomly selected episodes of the two shows. Overall, the researchers identified 479 and 445 recommendations made by the hosts of "The Dr. Oz Show" and "The Doctors," respectively.

How Mehmet Oz became Dr. Oz

The researchers randomly selected 80 recommendations from each show to evaluate based on medical evidence. The study found that 54% of recommendations from both shows could be supported by at least one piece of evidence. Specifically, on Dr. Oz's show:

  • 46% of recommendations could be supported with evidence;
  • 15% were contradicted by evidence; and
  • 39% had no evidence to support or contradict it.

"The Doctors" fared slightly better in the analysis, with 63% of recommendations being supported and 14% being contradicted.

Related: Dr. Oz gets grilled by senators on 'miracle' diet scams

The study also found that the medical recommendations presented in the show provide very little context to viewers. "Anyone who followed the advice provided would be doing so on the basis of a trust in the host or guest rather than through a balanced explanation of benefits, harms, and costs," the authors write.

The study cautions consumers against putting too much faith in medical advice they receive on television. According to the researchers, "consumers should be skeptical about any recommendations provided on television medical talk shows, as details are limited and only a third to one half of recommendations are based on believable or somewhat believable evidence" (Belluz, Vox, 12/17; Korownyk et al, BMJ, 11/19).

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