"The Dr. Oz Show" and "The Doctors" have average daily audiences of 2.9 million and 2.3 million, respectively. This gives the show hosts a huge amount of influence regarding medical information that gets disseminated to the American public. But how much of what these charismatic hosts discuss is actually sound medical advice? For the first time, a team of researchers has systematically analyzed the claims made on these popular shows, assessing their credibility. The research was led by Christina Korownyk of the University of Alberta's Department of Family Medicine, and the paper was published in The BMJ.
Dr. Mehmet Oz came under fire earlier this year after he admitted to the Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Insurance that all of his claims might not be all that they are cracked up to be. However, the full extent of exactly which claims were particularly problematic were not assessed.
Korownyk's team recorded over 70 episodes each of "The Dr. Oz Show" and "The Doctors," and randomly selected 40 of each to analyze for accuracy and integrity of claims. The shows were recorded in 2013, spanning from January to May. Recording the shows allowed the researchers to create an accurate transcript of the claims that were actually released to the public. On average, each show contained three or four topics, with four or five medical recommendations given for each. If the hosts themselves did not provide the advice, it was most likely given by an approved guest on the show.
The advice given on the shows was discussed and weighed by a team of researchers to reduce any individual bias that might occur in the physicians who co-authored the study. The results weren't fantastic, as only about 54% of the claims on both shows were backed up by peer-reviewed evidence.
When looking at the shows individually, there was evidence to support 46% of the claims made on the "Dr. Oz Show." Approximately 15% of the claims made on the show were contrary to what has been reported in scientific literature. There was no evidence to support or reject 49% of the claims made on the show. "The Doctors" had slightly better results, with 63% of the claims supported by scientific evidence. About 14% of the claims on the show are contradicted by evidence, and there is no evidence for or against 24% of the show's claims.
While there is evidence to support some of the claims made on the show, these statistics indicate that their recommendations should not be taken before consulting a personal physician. A family physician would understand an individual's unique medical history and could identify potential drug interactions associated with the supplement or dietary changes advocated on the TV show.