A recent study on the most popular Youtube videos discussing was conducted and presented at the British Association of Dermatologists Annual Meeting 2019 in Liverpool.
Researchers analyzed 100 of the most-watched eczema videos and rated them using the Global Quality Scale (GQS) and the DISCERN instrument. The DISCERN measured the quality of the videos, by asking 15 questions and scoring them from 1-5. The GQS also uses a 5-point scale. However, this method is based on the flow and value of the information presented.
The three categories they placed the videos in were, ‘useful,’ ‘misleading,’ and ‘potentially harmful.’
“Social media is a continually growing source of medical information for patients, particularly for young people. This information often doesn’t undergo review for scientific accuracy or quality and as our research shows, it has the potential to be heavily biased or even harmful,” Dr. Mueller said.
The outcome of this study showed 46% of the videos were ‘misleading,’ and 36% were potentially harmful. Leaving a mere 18% as ‘useful.’ Some of the main concerns were Youtubers suggesting diets eliminating gluten and dairy, the usage of harmful topical treatments, and home-based phototherapies.
Their greatest concern was videos labeled, “fast and easy cure.” I agree with this statement. I believe it’s morally irresponsible to make click-bait titles just so people watch your video. Especially due to eczema being unique to each individual.
Healthcare institutions and universities were grossly underrepresented making up only 21% of these videos, with 8% providing an alternative treatment.
“We hope that our research will make people think twice about the medical information they get from social media. The internet is a powerful and often helpful research tool, but where you source your information from is important. We do not advise against this kind of lay research, but we clearly advise against decision making based on YouTube videos only. We rather encourage to discuss the content of the videos with a doctor of trust to avoid adverse outcomes.” ~ Dr. Simon Mueller of University Hospital Basel, Switzerland
He added, “Strategies by professional dermatological organizations are urgently needed to improve their presence and visibility on YouTube.”
Summary: Most YouTube videos, while giving information may be causing more harm than good without proper research to back up specific findings. These methods may have worked for the YouTubers, but they are morally obligated to fully understand their videos are influential and could be in contempt without tangible data, leading to consequences for the viewers.
Solution: More Dermatologists, researchers, Medical professionals, Universities, etc. need to counterbalance these videos with factual information. There’s a 4th wall in the medical world that needs to break so that viewers can have access to scientific information. A larger social media presence from medical communities would be very beneficial.