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The Great and Powerful (Doctor) Oz

Ticket to taping of the Dr. Oz ShowThis post was written by CH alum, Amy Behrens. 

While planning a recent trip to New York City, my partner suggested we go to the filming of a TV show. I wasn’t quite sold on the idea until he said the magic words: “Doesn’t Dr. Oz film in NYC?”

I will confess right now that I adore Dr. Oz. I have adored him since the very first time I accidentally saw him on Oprah.

I also know many in the world of public health and beyond take issue with some of his recommendations. But as a health communicator, I am absolutely fascinated with him. His way of explaining complex health issues to the masses has skyrocketed him to fame and made him a household name.

In fact, I’d argue that Dr. Oz is health literacy incarnate. Too big of a statement? I don’t think so. In the single taping that I attended, he embodied many of the health literacy, communication, and education practices that we teach all the time:

  • Show it.At the filming, he was explaining how antioxidants work in the body — using balloons and some sort of beach tennis rackets. Then he used portions of food to illustrate how much you need to eat to get health benefits. He also used graphics to reinforce what he and his experts were saying.
  • Meet your audience “where they’re at.”He addresses topics that his audience cares about. And if it’s not an issue that they already care about, he takes the time to explain why they should.
  • Increase the audience’s self-efficacy.He gives recommendations as small steps, so as to not overwhelm the audience. The steps are action-oriented, simple, and often low- or no-cost.
  • Care about your audience.His communication style is direct, empathetic, simple, and human. That makes him relatable. As an audience member, you believe that he wants to learn about how your body works and how to keep it healthy just as much as you do.
  • Know what you’re talking about…He has a near encyclopedic medical knowledge.
  • And admit when you don’t.His mind is always open whether is changing a previous recommendation or incorporating “alternative” medicine practices. His focus is on health, not on being right.
  • Have a little fun.Ultimately, his show is successful because it’s entertaining… And he dances during commercial breaks.


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