Study - Don't Listen to TV Doctors
A recent study published in the BMJ found that more than half of the advice given on the Dr. Oz show was completely without evidence or was contradicted by scientific evidence.
This was a prospective study that:
“…randomly selected 40 episodes of each of The Dr Oz Show and The Doctors from early 2013 and identified and evaluated all recommendations made on each program.”
They had a team of experts review the scientific research to see if there was any support for the recommendations. They found that, for the Dr. Oz show, there was some evidence to support the advice 46% of the time, the evidence contradicted the advice 15% of the time, and there was no evidence either way 39% of the time.
The Doctors fared a little better, with 63%, 14%, and 24% respectively.
The threshold for declaring that a recommendation has some evidence was very low, requiring only a single case report (the weakest form of published evidence). Most of the time such preliminary evidence will not turn out to be true.
When the authors used a slightly higher threshold, of “Believable or somewhat believable evidence” then Dr Oz’s advice fell to 33% and The Doctors to 53%.
Further, “The magnitude of benefit was described for 17% of the recommendations on The Dr Oz Show and 11% on The Doctors.” This means that even when there was some evidence to support a benefit, the benefit might be miniscule, but the magnitude is rarely discussed.
This means that you are twice as likely to get bad advice than good advice from Dr. Oz, and with The Doctors, it’s a coin flip (and this is still using very forgiving criteria).
What you are apparently not getting from either of these two Dr. programs is an expert synthesis of the latest available scientific evidence.
It’s difficult to argue with the authors’ conclusions:
“The public should be skeptical about recommendations made on medical talk shows.”