YouTube and inflammatory bowel disease

J Crohns Colitis. 2013 Jun;7(5):392-402. doi: 10.1016/j.crohns.2012.07.011. Epub 2012 Aug 18.


Background and aims Nearly half of all patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) use the Internet as a source of information for their disease. We analyzed the source, content and accuracy of IBD videos found on YouTube - one of the most popular websites in the United States - and assessed the demographic variables of the viewers.

Methods: The 100 most viewed videos with relevant information on IBD were analyzed. We included only English language videos that were less than 20 min in length and primarily focused on IBD. Those with no sound/poor sound quality were excluded. More than 30 variables were analyzed.

Results: Adults of 45-54 years old (95.1%) comprised the most common age group of viewers. Forty-eight percent of videos focused on Crohn's disease (CD), 32.0% on ulcerative colitis (UC), and 20.0% on both. Overall content for patient education was poor. Videos discussing alternative treatment options were more likely to depict patients' personal experience (73.9% vs. 2.4%) (p<0.001) and be an advertisement compared to patient education videos (78.3% vs. 0) (p<0.001). Videos discussing patient education had a higher number of favorites (mean 25.0 vs. 5.5) (p<0.001), comments (mean 22.0 vs. 5.0) (p<0.022) and "likes" (mean 19.0 vs. 9.0) (p=0.025) than the ones discussing alternative treatment options.

Conclusions: YouTube videos on IBD are popular but a poor source of patient education. Healthcare providers and professional societies should provide more educational materials using this powerful Internet tool to counteract the misleading information, especially for the targeted age group (45-54 years).

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / therapy*
  • Crohn Disease / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Information Dissemination
  • Information Seeking Behavior*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Education as Topic / standards*
  • Social Media / standards*
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Video Recording / standards*
  • Young Adult