Dr. Oz is back on the air today after a tough few months.
Over the summer, "America's doctor" embarked on a listening tour with health professionals across the country. His stated objective: to learn about how his brand of TV medicine, which has long been criticized as scientifically dubious, impacts doctors and patients. He also wanted to know how he might do better.
"We're on the same team of trying to make people healthier," he told the Associated Press, "which I think everyone can agree is the case, even if you disagree with how I do it, even if you don't like the entertainment aspect of it."
The tour came after a high-profile group of physicians and academics had questioned Oz's faculty position at Columbia University, calling the medical school's affiliation with its most famous employee "unacceptable." Shortly thereafter, Oz's radio segment got dumped by Oprah Winfrey, and the American Medical Association said it would figure out how to crack down on doctors in the media who violate their codes of ethics.
The listening tour also comes after a year of bad ratings
Oz's show also seems to be taking a hit. According to the AP, The Dr. Oz Show averaged 1.85 million viewers last season — a 50 percent drop from the 2011-'12 season. And Oz's reputation among consumers isn't faring much better:
His positive "Q'' score peaked at 32 in winter 2011, meaning 32 per cent of people who knew him considered Oz one of their favourite personalities. Now it is down to 15, below the average of just above 18, according to Marketing Evaluations Inc. The percentage of people viewing him negatively rose from 15 per cent to 35 per cent in the same period, the company said.
The question remains: Will Dr. Oz learn anything from his critics?
His previous responses weren't auspicious. When his peers questioned his faculty position at Columbia, Oz fired back, denying — ridiculously — that his was not a medical show. He also argued that he could say whatever he wanted on air under the First Amendment, even if that meant deviating from his promise as a doctor not to harm patients.
Still, the lower ratings and reputation hit may suggest that people, broadly speaking, don't appreciate questionable medical advice.
So listening to his critics could help Oz. But making evidence-based medicine entertaining, five days a week, may be one of the greatest challenges of his career.