• Dr Oz is a Copyright Thief?

    I’ve written about Dr Oz before (here and here) and it’s obvious that I think he’s a dangerous purveyor of woo and nonsense. I did not, however, think he was a 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).

    Oz Anx Test
    The first three questions of the “Dr Oz” test.


    For comparison, the first three questions of the GAD-7

    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).

    Category: HealthMedicineMental HealthPsychologySkepticism


    Article by: Caleb Lack

    Caleb Lack is the author of "Great Plains Skeptic" on SIN, as well as a clinical psychologist, professor, and researcher. His website contains many more exciting details, visit it at www.caleblack.com

    3 Pingbacks/Trackbacks

    • WTF??

      • Right, Abbie? It’s a bit underhanded even for him.

    • Implying that Dr Oz is nothing but a thief, a peddler of pseudoscience and a bad influence to all who watch his shows? He may have been a published heart surgion, but that doesn’t mean that he knows shit about other medical aspects of the body.

      • I’m afraid that his show in 90% bunk and woo, despite his brilliance as a cardiac surgeon.

    • jim

      So are you less upset now that you know it is owned by Pfizer? How dare he steal it from that hard working corporation! They deserve the recognition! I think he owes Pfizer a heartfelt apology.
      This post really backfired quickly. Who is the little guy here again? (and I hate Oz show for the record…)

      • what the hell does it matter who owns it? Oz’s behavior is wrong regardless of who owns the copyright.

      • Less upset? No, I was just correcting who owned the copyright.

        Please, enlighten me on how the post “backfired quickly.”

    • hlew

      So, are all the other docs who use this measure also plagiarizing? I’m sure that all doctors who give this assessment to their patients mention who originally studied it’s validity every time they use it.

      • SmilodonsRetreat

        Most of these kinds of assessments are based on research. And most of them use the forms and questions created by the developer to elicit the responses that accurately judge a particular character.

        Other doctors (actual psychologists) probably pay a small fee to use this assessment and have it scored by the original developers. That way they know that the assessment is being scored accurately and not “You got three 1’s, you must be suicidal”.

      • The other people using it aren’t taking the name off of it, relabeling it as “The Dr Myname Anxiety Test,” and passing it off as something they did. That’s the difference.

    • Pingback: No Famous People This Week | Procrastibation()

    • Pingback: Mirror, Mirror—The Handwriting’s on the Wall | Great Plains Skeptic()

    • Pingback: Dr. Oz Gets Taken to Task by Congress and Comedians | Great Plains Skeptic()