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The great and powerful Dr. Oz? Alternative health media consumption and vaccine views in the United States

Journal of Communication cover.Cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Mehmet Oz, until recently the host of a nationally syndicated U.S. television show, is among the media figures who have espoused health views unsanctioned by established medical authorities such as the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration. In a large, probability-based national longitudinal study, we examine the prevalence and consequences of consuming alternative health media (AHM), such as The Dr. Oz Show. Drawing on data from a naturally occurring and time-varying quasi-experiment, we demonstrate that such programming may be able to shift the attitudes of its audience on consequential health topics. Specifically, Oz’s endorsement of the MMR vaccine was associated with a shift in acceptance among a segment of his audience. Our study demonstrates both the persuasive power of AHM and its capacity to align the views of its low-knowledge audience members with CDC and FDA-consistent science, should its trusted sources choose to do so.