When the doctors on The Doctors recommend a certain treatment or diet or supplement, you figure there’s probably some truth to their recommendation, right? But a survey of their advice, along with The Dr Oz Show‘s, finds that most of it is probably not worth heeding.
Screengrab from “The Doctors”
A group of medical students, led by Dr Ranit Mishori of Georgetown University, checked out all of the recommendations on both shows over the course of one month. They found that 80 per cent of The Doctors‘ recommendations, and 78 per cent of those on The Dr Oz Show, had no backing from “evidence-based medical guidelines, society recommendations, or authority statements”.
The team also looked for studies supporting each recommendation, and found that a third of the recommendations had no support at all in the literature. Another large chunk didn’t have robust evidence either, just studies in mice or cell culture that the shows’ doctors and writers were extrapolating wildly.
Also concerning: Both shows didn’t usually discuss the cost of the treatments or products they discussed, and rarely mentioned any risks or harmful side effects. Focusing on the upsides of something might help to sell it, but even TV doctors should care about, and communicate, both risks and benefits. The American Medical Association writes in their ethical guidelines for physicians in the media: “Information in the public sphere can be sensationalised, misrepresented, or patently falsified, which can have potentially serious consequences if the benefits and drawbacks of medical advice are not appropriately conveyed.”
There’s a weird sort of tension whenever I see these shows: Something between “Nobody should take medical advice from daytime TV” and “But they’re real doctors, and they wouldn’t outright lie, would they?” At least now we have some numbers to help understand what’s going on. More at the link below.