YouTube medical videos can paint incomplete picture, study finds

Researchers from Newark, N.J.-based Rutgers Medical School found implantable cardioverter defibrillator information on YouTube to be low quality and highly variable, leaving an opportunity for medical institutions to improve online resources.

The researchers said approximately 80 percent of individuals search online for health information, with 56 percent of those related to medical treatments or procedures, according to a news release from the American College of Cardiology Quality Summit. Researchers viewed ICD videos on YouTube and after eliminating lecture-style videos, surgical and operating room content and non-English videos, they found only 50 videos on the topic.

Those 50 videos were ranked on a 0-25 point scale using the DISCERN criteria: a scale to assess overall quality, bias and reliability of patient-education literature and content. The average ICD video scored 12.58.

"It's so important that patients have access to high quality information because of how challenging it can be to interact with medical professionals. Oftentimes a patient will have to wait weeks or even months before they can confidently have their questions answered," Thomas Lee, MD, resident physician at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School and the study's lead author, said. "The issue is that on YouTube so much of the informative videos seem like they're high quality because of a hospital setting or doctor narrating, but in reality, the video fails to convey the complete picture of an ICD placement."

Researchers said the study demonstrates an opportunity for medical institutions to improve video content, quality and visibility for patient education online.

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