Medical Talk Show Recommendations Often Lack Evidence for Claims

Medical Talk Show Recommendations Often Lack Evidence for Claims
Medical Talk Show Recommendations Often Lack Evidence for Claims

Dr. Mehmet Oz has been criticized for promoting products on his popular television program that lack scientific evidence supporting their claims, such as green coffee extract as a weight loss supplement. A new study in the journal BMJ sought to evaluate the percentage of recommendations made on “The Dr. Oz Show” and “The Doctors” that are supported by scientific evidence, topics discussed, number of recommendations made on each show, and the types and details of the recommendations. Forty episodes from each program were randomly selected and analyzed, with general medical advice as the most common show topic discussed on both programs (32% for “The Dr. Oz Show” and 65.5% for “The Doctors”).

Non-weight loss dietary advice was the second most common topic for both (24.8% and 8.8%, respectively); dietary advice plus weight loss comprised 43.2% of all topics discussed on “The Dr. Oz Show” and 16.8% on “The Doctors.” About 46% of the recommendations from “The Dr. Oz. Show” were supported by evidence, contradicted for 15%, and not found for 39%; for “The Doctors,” these numbers were 63%, 14%, and 24%, respectively. The most common recommendation category on “The Dr. Oz Show” was dietary advice (39%) vs. consulting a healthcare professional on “The Doctors” (18%). A specific benefit was mentioned in only 40% of recommendations for both shows; magnitude of benefit (<20%), potential harms (<10%), and costs (<15%) were mentioned but with less frequency.

Consumers should be skeptical of recommendations made on these television programs and healthcare professionals should be aware that patients may be following some of these recommendations without knowledge of potential adverse events and risks.

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