'Dramatically inaccurate': Women's health misinformation is rampant on TikTok

Most TikTok videos on gynecological cancer contain misinformation that could be harmful to women's health, a recent study found. 

Researchers at the Ohio State Comprehensive Cancer Center-James in Columbus searched for the 500 most popular TikTok posts on five hashtags related to gynecological cancer: gestational trophoblastic disease and ovarian, endometrial, cervical and vulvar cancers. The hashtags had more than 466 million views, according to a news release from the cancer center. 

The videos were analyzed for key themes, plus quality and reliability of information. At least 73 percent of content was misleading, "dramatically inaccurate" or of "poor educational quality," the news release said. 

Consuming TikTok misinformation could be damaging to patient health outcomes, according to Laura Chambers, DO, senior study author and an osteopathic physician at the cancer center. But the prevalance of personal cancer stories online raises questions about the unspoken concerns of gynecological cancer patients, often mothers and young women. 

"The intent of this study was to understand the needs of patients that may go unspoken in the clinic but represent gaps in care that need addressed," Dr. Chambers said in the release. "As doctors, we are focused on treatment toxicities and patient outcomes, but many of our patients are navigating really difficult challenges at home — like figuring out how to show their child love and attention when they are going through fatiguing treatments."

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