Reality Television and its Effect on Public Awareness of Polycystic Ovary

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Television is an effective outlet to disseminate public health information. The reality television series My Big Fat Fabulous Life and Teen Mom have featured prominently the effects of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) on the lives of young women. Our primary objective was to investigate the effect of discussion regarding PCOS within the context of reality television on public awareness and interest.

Methods: We used Google Trends ( to capture monthly relative search interest (RSI; 0-100) in “Polycystic ovary syndrome” and “PCOS” from January 2004 through November 2021 to capture a 17-year trend in search interest for the disorder. An autoregressive integrated moving average (ARIMA) modeling technique was used to compare relative search interest for the disorder compared to the forecasted data trend. We then used an integral function to summate continued interest encompassing the subsequent disclosures.

Results: Our analysis showed a significantly increased RSI for the term “Polycystic ovary syndrome” following a discussion of the condition on My Big Fat Fabulous Life. The peak RSI (94) following Thore’s disclosure resulted in an RSI that was 58.55% higher than expected. From January 2015 – November 2021, additional peaks in RSI were noted which corresponded to disclosures of PCOS diagnoses by other celebrities, resulting in a cumulative RSI increase of 1297 (95% CI: 1292.00 - 1302.24) – an average of 15.76 points (95% CI: 5.71 - 25.80) higher interest than forecasted.

Conclusion: Our results suggest that disclosure of PCOS diagnosis among celebrities on reality television shows is strongly associated with an increase in the public interest. Their disclosure is often accompanied by personal stories and perspectives on how the condition affects their lives, their experience of stigma, and concerns about their health (e.g., potential infertility, weight issues). Thus, their depiction of PCOS may have a positive effect on raising awareness and funding for PCOS research – a valuable insight for health professionals to consider.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages8
JournalOklahoma State Medical Proceedings
Issue number3
StatePublished - 11 Dec 2023


Dive into the research topics of 'Reality Television and its Effect on Public Awareness of Polycystic Ovary'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this