Medicine:Celebrity doctor

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Celebrity doctors include physicians, medical professionals, people with the title doctor, and some with the nickname "doctor" who have extensive media exposure. Some may have a secondary role as an entertainer.[1] Examples of celebrity doctors include Dr. Drew, Dr. Miami, Dr. Oz, Dr. Ruth, and Dr. Weil.


Dr. Ruth Westheimer

A "celebrity doctor" is a medical professional noted for appearances on television, the internet and social media, books, and speaking engagements.[1][2]

On Dr Oz in 2016
"He's operating both as an M.D., somebody who's on the faculty at Columbia University, one of the most respected universities in the world, and at the same time is operating as essentially a businessman and an entertainer. And he's delivering non-fact-based, non-evidence-based medical advice. I mean that is the definition of quackery.

...I think he has changed the balance of his presentation on the show and probably deserves some credit for that, but that doesn't change the inherent conflict."

Professor W. Douglas Evans, a health communications expert at the George Washington University, [3]

For many years, doctors such as Everett Koop, Benjamin Spock, and Ruth Westheimer (Dr. Ruth) gave advice on the radio, on television, and in books.[1]

With the growth of the internet and social media, medical professionals had more places to reach the public, especially with messages alternative to mainstream medical advice.[1][4][5]

Celebrity doctors are part of a "healthcare–media complex" that constantly seeks new attention of consumers in the 24-hour news cycle with catchy content about health in order to achieve and maintain high rankings, which media channels can then monetize.[2] There is a conflict between their roles and responsibilities as medical doctors, and their roles as business people and entertainers.[3][6][7]

Consumers generally trust that the content they receive from celebrity doctors is valid due to their credentials and their fame. Content may be exaggerated and simplified by the need to gain and keep the public's attention, and is often general and may not be applicable to an individual receiving the content.[1][2][4][8] The problem of conflicts of interest becomes especially acute if a celebrity doctor endorses some specific product or approach to health when they deliver content about health, and also sells related products.[4][9][10][11] Sometimes the content is dangerous because people who are sick waste time following poor or irrelevant advice and their illness advances and becomes more difficult to manage.[4]

In The BMJ's Christmas 2014 edition, a study determined that for the TV show The Doctors, "evidence supported 63%, contradicted 14%, and was not found for 24%" of recommendations made by the panel of doctors, and for The Dr. Oz Show, "evidence supported 46%, contradicted 15%, and was not found for 39%" of his recommendations; the study also said that "the public should be skeptical about recommendations made on medical talk shows."[12]

Examples of celebrity doctors include Deepak Chopra,[13][14] Phil McGraw a.k.a. Dr. Phil (though he does not have a medical degree),[1][6] Mehmet Oz,[1][15][16] Drew Pinsky,[17] David Perlmutter,[18] and Andrew Weil.[1][19]

Robert Atkins and Arthur Agatston are examples of celebrity doctors who have created and promoted fad diets.[20]

Celebrity doctors based outside the US include Ginni Mansberg (Australia);[21] Eriko Wakisaka (Japan);[22] and Hayden Kho (Philippines).[23]

Several doctors from the UK have presented on the medical reality television show Embarrassing Bodies (which has been praised for its service to public health while remaining popular)[24][25] and have become celebrities, including Pixie McKenna,[26] Dawn Harper,[27] and Christian Jessen.[28][29]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 Jameson, Marni (14 June 2010). "The cult of celebrity doctors". Los Angeles Times. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Cifu, AS (February 2014). "Why Dr. Oz makes us crazy.". Journal of General Internal Medicine 29 (2): 417–8. doi:10.1007/s11606-013-2646-3. PMID 24197635. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Despite Controversy, Dr. Oz Maintains Wide Appeal". National Public Radio: All Things Considered. 15 September 2016. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Girgis, Linda (May 8, 2015). "The Cult of Dr. Oz Crumbles". Physician's Weekly. 
  5. Gumpert, David E. (28 March 2006). "Dr. Weil, Heal Thyself". Bloomberg News. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 Considine, Bob (1 February 2008). "Dr. Phil defends intentions with Britney Spears". Today. "In 2002, the California Board of Psychology determined that McGraw did not need his license for the purposes of his show because he was "doing more entertainment than psychology."" 
  7. "Supplementing Their Income". Center for Science in the Public Interest. January 24, 2006. 
  8. Hoffman, Steve; Belluz, Julia (January 21, 2013). "Why celebrities and TV doctors can be bad for your health". C2C Journal. 
  9. Stetka, Bret (April 26, 2016). "Do Vitamins and Supplements Make Antidepressants More Effective?". Scientific American. 
  10. "Dr. Oz controversy raises questions about celebrity doctor endorsements". The Current with Anna Maria Tremonti (Canadian Broadcasting Company). June 19, 2014. 
  11. "Scammers Use Celebrity Doctors to Target Consumers". Better Business Bureau. March 22, 2016. 
  12. Koronyk, C. (December 17, 2014). "Televised medical talk shows—what they recommend and the evidence to support their recommendations: a prospective observational study". The BMJ 349: g7346. doi:10.1136/bmj.g7346. PMID 25520234. 
  13. Baer, Hans A. (1 January 2003). "The Work of Andrew Weil and Deepak Chopra: Two Holistic Health/New Age Gurus: A Critique of the Holistic Health/New Age Movements". Medical Anthropology Quarterly 17 (2): 233–250. doi:10.1525/maq.2003.17.2.233. PMID 12846118. 
  14. Green, Emma (October 4, 2013). "Understanding Deepak Chopra's 'Biofields'". The Atlantic. 
  15. Haughney, Christine (6 July 2012). "Dr. Oz, a TV Doctor, Is Driving Huge Magazine Sales". The New York Times. 
  16. Izadi, Elahe (April 18, 2015). "Dr. Oz responds after prominent physicians call for his firing from Columbia University". Washington Post. 
  17. Norris, Chris (30 December 2009). "Is Dr. Drew Pinsky's Show Therapy or Tabloid Voyeurism?". The New York Times. 
  18. Levinovitz, Alan (June 24, 2015). "The Problem With David Perlmutter, the Grain Brain Doctor". New York Magazine. 
  19. O'Brian, Amy (November 7, 2005). "'Alternative' doctor wants more time spent in B.C". The Vancouver Sun. 
  20. "Celebrity Doctors". Encyclopedia of Diet Fads: Understanding Science and Society (2nd ed.). ABC-CLIO. 2014. pp. 41. ISBN 978-1-61069-760-6. 
  21. Beck, Katie (6 July 2016). "Australian celebrity doctor Ginni Mansberg's path to success". BBC News. 
  22. Staff, Tokyo Reporter (12 July 2016). "Tokyo court gives celebrity doctor suspended sentence for fraud". The Tokyo Reporter. 
  23. Bell, Thomas (28 May 2009). "Philippines gripped by actress's affair with Doctor Hunk". The Telegraph. 
  24. Bennett, James; Medrado, Andrea (Feb 2013). "The Business of Multi-Platform Public Service". Media International Australia (146): 103. doi:10.1177/1329878X1314600114. 
  25. Bennett, James (2012). "Multiplatforming Public Service Broadcasting The economic and cultural role of UK Digital and TV Independents". Bournemouth University. 
  26. "'I'll never forget the woman with testicles on her head' - Pixie McKenna, Cambridge doctor and Embarrassing Bodies star". Cambridge News. 14 March 2014. 
  27. Clare, Rachel (10 August 2010). "Celebrity TV doctor and Stroud GP Dawn Harper saddles up for charity". Stroud News and Journal. 
  28. Cosslett, Rhiannon Lucy (21 March 2014). "Dr Christian Jessen: 'The public's thirst for gory medical things is insatiable'". The Guardian. 
  29. Helen, Helen (August 22, 2013). "Dr Christian Jessen: "The word 'exploitative' drives me mad"". New Statesman. 

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