Many of us look for medical advice on TV. Surely if that advice is given by a doctor, it should be sound. Right?
However, TV shows like The Doctors and The Dr. Oz Show have only given research-supported advice about 50 percent of the time, according to a recent study published in the British Medical Journal.
These two shows draw over two billion viewers apiece, each day. The general public quotes "facts" they have learned from them regularly.
With that in mind, researchers from the University of Alberta’s Department of Family Medicine designed a study to determine how reliable the advice has been.
Christina Korownyk led a research team that “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,” reported IFL science.com.
The shows were recorded in 2013. “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,” stated Medcity News.
Researchers randomly selected 80 of the stronger recommendations from each of the shows and developed a searchable question for each.
Two health care providers from the research group with medical literature searching skills independently sought evidence supporting each recommendation.
Teams made up of four investigators then reviewed the evidence for each recommendation searching for: support, lack of support or support of the opposite treatment of the TV professionals' recommendations.
The results showed that only about 54 percent of the claims were backed up by peer-reviewed evidence and about 14 percent of the recommendations were actually contradicted by existing research by both shows.
Dr. Oz’s show had claims that were neither supported nor disputed 49 percent of the time. The Doctor’s recommendations had no evidence for or against them 24 percent of the time.