YouTube videos fall short in educating patients about influenza

Watching videos is a fun and easy way to learn about something new—and healthcare professionals are taking advantage of platforms like YouTube to educate patients. In a study published in Chest, researchers evaluated the educational quality of seasonal influenza videos available online.

The study searched for YouTube videos containing the search word “seasonal influenza” from Jan. 28 to Feb. 5. A total of 300 videos were analyzed for characteristics, source and content. Videos were then sorted by source, including healthcare provider, alternative-medicine provider, patient and/or patient's parents, company, media or professional society.

"This study confirmed that most YouTube videos on seasonal influenza are provided by professional societies and healthcare providers, with over half of the videos attempting to educate patients," wrote Lakshmi Kallur, MD, lead researcher and resident physician in the department of internal medicine at East Tennessee State University's Quillen College of Medicine. "These videos, although containing accurate information, did not fulfill our criteria as far as educating patients thoroughly."

Of the 300 videos, with a median of 341 views, the most common video source was professional societies with 38.3 percent of the videos. However, YouTube videos did not achieve a high-quality rating in their ability to educate patients.

"YouTube videos on seasonal influenza were shown to be a poor source of valid healthcare information. Videos by healthcare providers were a better source of information compared to other sources,” wrote Kallur. “This study reiterates the need for higher quality educational videos on seasonal influenza by the medical community.”