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TV Doctors’ Talk Shows: Can You Trust Their Recommendations?

Dr Oz Show: 3 Healthy Ways to Use Apple Cider Vinegar, Video frame

Dr Oz Show: 3 Healthy Ways to Use Apple Cider Vinegar, Video still

Most of us have seen an episode or two of a TV medical talk show, like the Dr. Oz Show. Have you wondered if the health recommendations are accurate and fact-based?

A group of general practitioners had the same question. So, they analyzed over 40 episodes of the popular American TV shows, ‘The Dr Oz’s Show’ and ‘The Doctors’, to see if health claims were evidence-based.

Published in The British Medical Journal, the study results were alarming.

Can You Trust the Claims of TV Doctors?

The research doctors were concerned when their patients would say: ‘I was watching TV and I saw a recommendation that I should be taking this medication (or this supplement or have this test).’ Or, ‘I’ve started taking this supplement because it was recommended on this particular medical show.’

Dr. Christine Korownyk, the lead researcher said, as doctors, “we were left scrambling thinking ‘what is the evidence for that? Is this something you should be doing?’ So we thought we should go ahead and systematically look at these shows on television.”

The main goals were to assess the accuracy of the reporting (was it evidence-based), if the recommendations were ‘best practice’ and if the doctors’ claims were unbiased (no conflicts of interest).

The Doctors - Hope or Hype TV video frame 400 x 300 pix at 300 res

The Doctors: Hope or Hype: The Trendiest Foods of 2016, Video still.

Are the Health Claims Evidence-Based?

The findings were somewhat disturbing. One third to one half of what was discussed and recommended on these programs had NO scientific basis.

• For recommendations in The Dr Oz Show, evidence supported 46%, contradicted 15%, and was not found for 39%.
• For recommendations in The Doctors, evidence supported 63%, contradicted 14%, and was not found for 24%.
• On average, The Dr Oz Show had 12 recommendations per episode, and The Doctors had 11 recommendations.

What this Means to Patients

You should be skeptical about claims made on medical talk shows.

The public should be skeptical about claims made on medical talk shows.
Do your own research and talk to your own healthcare professional before making any changes to your health plan.

For a more in-depth look at this study, read the article: Study: Less than half of Dr. Oz’s recommendations are actually supported by evidence.

References for this article
Korownyk C, Kolber MR, McCormack J, et al. Televised medical talk shows—what they recommend and the evidence to support their recommendations: a prospective observational study. BMJ. 2014;349:g7346. doi:

Abel, J. Study: Less than half of Dr. Oz’s recommendations are actually supported by evidence: Those pills are not “miracles,” and they’re not worth buying either. 12/19/2014. URL:

Can you trust the advice of TV doctors? The BS Medicine Podcast. Audio program with the authors of the Korownyk BMJ article, 45:00. Online at:

Black, HR and Lundberg, GD. Bad News: Medical Misinformation and the Ethics of TV Docs. Video program (17:39) and transcript. Medscape Cardiology: Black on Cardiology. April 08, 2015. URL:

Visual credits: Dr Oz Show: 3 Healthy Ways to Use Apple Cider Vinegar, Video frame,; The Doctors: Hope or Hype: The Trendiest Foods on 2016, Video frame.

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