Category Archives: Medical Research

Celebrity Credibility? New Research Says Trust Real Medical Experts, Not A-Listers

From Jennifer Aniston’s “Rachel” haircut to widespread use of Rachel Ray’s “EVOO,” celebrities have clearly demonstrated their influential power over the masses. But would you trust an A-Lister as a credible source for medical advice, including cosmetic surgery? Whether you know it or not, for most of us the answer is yes, according to a new study published in the latest issue of BMJ, “Following Celebrities’ Medical Advice: Meta-narrative Analysis.”

Lead study author Steven Hoffman, MD, and medical student Charlie Tan, McMaster University, Ontario, Canada, conducted a meta-analysis of data gleaned from electronic database searches. They targeted studies that have examined celebrity influence in economics, marketing, psychology, and sociology to try and determine how celebrities influence the medical decisions made by the general public.

What They Found

This is where it gets interesting. Not only did their research demonstrate that when A-Listers endorse products, we go after those products with a herd-like mentality (no big surprise there), but it also suggests that the reason we buy into celebrity trends is to elevate and acquire their perceived social capital. In other words, if we look like them, or somehow walk in their footsteps, some of their social standing and desirability rubs off on us.

This is great news for marketers whose sole purpose is to get us to buy what they’re selling, needed or not. It’s also great news for campaigns with the important purpose of promoting disease awareness (think Katie Couric’s Colonoscopy and Michael J. Fox’s Parkinson’s). The not-so-good news is that it can be used to promote bad medical advice. As the study authors aptly point out, “The influence of celebrity status is a deeply rooted process that can be harnessed for good or abused for harm.”

Trust the Experts

Regardless of medical-related scenario, experts agree that the best rule of thumb is to do your research. When you’re looking for information or ready to pull the trigger on any kind of procedure, it’s very important to gather reliable information and never to simply rely on the advice of friends, family members or celebrities.

The researchers in this study take this one step further, recommending that our medical and public health experts actively draw the line when celebrity influence is used irresponsibly. “Public health authorities can use these insights to implement regulations and restrictions on celebrity endorsements and design counter marketing initiatives—perhaps even partnering with celebrities—to discredit bogus medical advice while promoting evidence based practices.”

Until that day comes, however, it’s up to the individual to be smart and make good decisions, and the experts at are here to help. Trust us to help you find accurate information and to find the best doctors in your area.

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