Popular social media videos on bladder, prostate cancer source of misinformation, study finds

Top-viewed YouTube videos on bladder and prostate cancer often present inaccurate or low-quality information, according to two recent studies led by researchers at New York City-based NYU Langone Health.

The first study, published in the journal of European Urology, evaluated the first 150 of 242,000 YouTube videos that come up when searching bladder cancer. Researchers used validated instruments to evaluate each video's overall quality. 

Sixty-seven percent of the videos included poor to moderate information, 21 percent contained a moderate to high amount of misinformation, and 17 percent presented commercial bias, findings showed. 

The videos were highly viewed, with the videos that had a moderate to high amount of misinformation reaching an audience of more than 1.2 million. 

A separate study focused on prostate cancer and evaluated the first 150 YouTube search result videos. Of those, 77 percent were found to have biased or potentially misinformative content in the video itself or in the comments section. For instance, most videos outlined benefits of various treatments without adequately addressing potential harms and side effects. 

Overall, videos considered higher-quality were less viewed than those with misinformation, researchers said. 

"Having lots of 'likes' and views does not mean that a video is medically accurate," Stacy Loeb, MD, lead author on the studies, and urology and population health professor at NYU Langone, said in an April  27 news release. "As healthcare providers, we can help counter this trend by better communicating with patients and guiding them to trustworthy sources for additional information."

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