After watching 40 random episodes of internationally syndicated health programs- The Dr. Oz Show and The Doctors, Dr. Korownyk evaluated the benefit or harm to the average viewer in a prospective study.
These shows typically garner 2-3 million daily viewers and one to five health topics discussed in each episode, with 43% covering dietary and weight loss advice. General public health advice (such as vaccinations) had the most coverage.
An independent team assessed the shows with the following results:
- Believable supported evidence- 33% of recommendations from Dr. Oz, 53% from The Doctors
- Evidence against- 11% Oz, 13$ Doctors.
- More than one in 3 (Oz) and 1 in 4 (Drs.) recommendations had no evidence.
The authors noted that:
“approximately half of the recommendations have either no evidence or are contradicted by the best available evidence”. They also point out the subjective nature for much of the advice.
They asked “Should medical talk shows provide more than entertainment?” “If the shows are perceived as providing medical information or advice, viewers need to realize that their recommendations may not be supported by higher evidence or presented with enough balanced information to adequately inform decision making”.
This study was supported through the University of Alberta.
My advice for you is that information you glean from television health shows can be good spring boards to research and delve more into options available. It is also information that you can discuss with your doctor at your next examination.
Do you watch health shows for your advice or perhaps to learn the latest trends in health? How about alternative care and alternative therapies? Do you look for options in these categories?
Share your opinions and experiences in the comment box below.