Dr Oz is a Copyright Thief?
Turns out, I was wrong.
On an episode that aired on March 18, 2013 (which focused in part on medical frauds, scams and cheats, which is perhaps the most ironic thing I have seen in my entire life), there was a segment on anxiety. It featured Marla Deibler, PsyD, a clinical psychologist and specialist in anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorders (not unlike myself, although I have a PhD). In it, Dr Deibler demonstrated a brief measure of anxiety (seven questions) that people could take and score to see how anxious they were. It was marketed on the show and on the website as “The Dr. Oz Show – The Anxiety Scale Test.” The scale was described as being heavily researched and useful for determining whether or not you need to seek help dealing with your anxiety.
They were right. This is a great, reliable and accurate measure for assessing generalized anxiety disorder. It has been used in hundreds of studies and matches quite well with clinical diagnoses of Generalized Anxiety Disorder.
Here’s the problem, though: this measure was created in 1992 by Robert Spitzer and his colleagues. If you don’t believe me, you don’t even have to take my word for it: just compare the GAD-7 with the “Dr Oz Scale” below (or at those links).
That means that Oz has stolen this measure, relabeled it, and is passing it off as something that he did. So, he is either a thief or a plagiarizer, and either way guilty of copyright violations and unethical behavior.
What’s even more egregious is who Oz is stealing from. This is not some small-time, unknown researcher. Instead, Dr. Spitzer is one of the most noted psychiatrists of the past 100 years, and Dr. Oz (a cardiologist and purveyor of alt-med nonsense) is stealing his (and his co-authors’) work. Dr. Spitzer, now 81 years old and suffering from Parkinsons, is not credited in any way on Oz’s website or on the show.
This is nothing less than disgusting, and Oz needs to be taken to task for it. I have reached out to Dr. Spitzer and his colleagues, and will update with any response I receive from any of them. In the meantime, please spread the word: Oz is not only not to be trusted with medical advice, but also what he claims he has created.
UPDATE: Apparently the copyright is actually owned by Pfizer, not Dr. Spitzer (the creator and first author on the measure’s first publication).