Saturday, December 20, 2014

Medical Advice

I just read an online article, "Here's What Experts Say about the Advice on Dr. Oz and The Doctors," which states what should be obvious to all of us:

A lot of this advice is pure garbage.

From the article:
"Reporting in the BMJ, Canadian researchers analyzed two medical TV talk shows—The Dr. Oz Show and The Doctors—and found that only 46% of the recommendations on The Dr. Oz Show and 63% on The Doctors were supported by evidence. 15% of advice given on Oz and 14% of advice on The Doctors contradicted the available published evidence in journals."
Dr. Oz's excuse, given to a Senate subcommittee hearing in June 2014 was, according to the article:

“I do personally believe in the items that I talk about on the show. We have to simplify complicated information. We have to make the material seem interesting and focus on the ‘wow’ factor.”

And that probably sums it up really well. "...the 'wow' factor." Because it's TV, it's entertainment, it's not real medicine.

But I think another problem here, the reason people are watching these shows, is that people are reluctant to talk to their own real-life doctors about problems that are embarrassing.

Another problem might be that they don't trust their own doctors to take the time to really listen and understand their concerns. I mean, we've all been to a doctor who barely listened to what we said, haven't we? Who grabbed our chart from the plastic chart-holder outside the room and walked in reading it for the first time, glanced at us, and started probing us without even washing his hands first? Who made us wait more than half an hour and then could hardly wait to get to his next patient?

(I'm using male pronouns here because most of the doctors I've encountered who acted this way were males, not because female doctors don't do it!)

But here's another thing: Is the advice we might receive from our own doctors any better than the tidbits from the TV shows?

Haven't you been seen by a doctor who gave recommendations that were not supported by evidence? I have. (And, yes, it was a male doctor.)

What's a person to do? I'm still thinking about this. Any suggestions?


2 comments:

Jeff Wynn said...

Ah. So like the journals Nature and Science, if something doesn't come with a "wow factor" it won't even be sent out to reviewers.

Well, "wow" does NOT equal science!

Lives aren't improved - and especially not SAVED - with "wow."

Jeff Wynn said...

The old Yellow Journalism equivalent was W Randolph Hearst's mantra:

If it BLEEDS, it LEADS.