How Wise Is It To Consult ‘Dr YouTube’?

With an estimated 84% of teenagers relying on ‘Dr Google‘ for health information, there have been various studies aiming to better understand the information Google returns, and indeed to improve the quality and reliability of that information.

Suffice to say, another major part of the Google family is video sharing behemoth YouTube, and they too are a major source of health information.  A recent study examined the quality of health information provided via the site.

Flu advice

The researchers focused their analysis on seasonal influenza advice, with each of the most popular videos on the topic analyzed for the content, source and characteristics of the video.  The sources were classified as being either from a health-care provider, alternative-medicine provider, patient and/or patients’ parents, company, media, or professional society, with CDC guidelines used to classify the quality of each source.

In total over 300 videos were viewed, with the average number of views of each relatively low (341).  Most of the presenters were Caucasian males, with the most common provider of material being professional societies (the least common were from alternative medicine providers).  In terms of quality, the highest was achieved by content delivered via health-care providers.

“This study confirmed that most YouTube videos on seasonal influenza are provided by professional societies and health-care providers, with over half of the videos attempting to educate patients,” the authors say, “these videos, although containing accurate information, did not fulfill our criteria as far as educating patients thoroughly.”