ICBioethics Blog 

Where do you get your Medical Information?

Written by: Leah Jeunnette, Ph.D.(c)

How do consumers learn about new medical information?  Many look to experts and researchers who have conducted scientific studies. But in today’s media crazy world, other sources vie noisily for attention. Television viewers of The Dr. Oz Show and The Doctors listen to recommendations between commercials (over 5 million viewers/day per Nielsen’s report—2012-13 season). But do consumers always understand the difference between scientifically proven medicine and medical opinion/interpretation?

Researchers from two Canadian universities conducted an observational study regarding recommendations made on these shows.  They categorized recommendations and looked for case studies to support them, finding support for only 54% of 160 recommendations.  Most frequent Doctor Oz Show recommendations regarded diet, while The Doctors’most often regarded consulting a healthcare provider.

While some simply find these shows entertaining, others place high levels of trust in these medical doctors.  If more consumers knew that only 54% of recommendations had supporting case studies, would any unquestioningly trust these shows? Who would trust a physician knowing that only 54% of his/her recommendations had evidence-based support?  Hopefully, our personal physicians would fare better under scrutiny!

While I don’t profess to know the validity and reliability of this study (both shows are questioning it), I honestly hope these (and all!) doctors honor their responsibility to due diligence, to maintaining their expertise and competence, and to preserving the public trust.

And viewers, do a little research of your own, then take those televised medical recommendations with a grain of salt and a large glass of water . . . .

Mitch GennusoComment