YouTube as an information source for pediatric adenotonsillectomy and ear tube surgery

Int J Pediatr Otorhinolaryngol. 2014 Jan;78(1):65-70. doi: 10.1016/j.ijporl.2013.10.045. Epub 2013 Nov 7.


Objectives: Assess the overall quality of information on adenotonsillectomy and ear tube surgery presented on YouTube ( from the perspective of a parent or patient searching for information on surgery.

Methods: The YouTube website was systematically searched on select dates with a formal search strategy to identify videos pertaining to pediatric adenotonsillectomy and ear tube surgery. Only videos with at least 5 (ear tube surgery) or 10 (adenotonsillectomy) views per day were included. Each video was viewed and scored by two independent scorers. Videos were categorized by goal and scored for video/audio quality, accuracy, comprehensiveness, and procedure-specific content.

Study design: Cross-sectional study.

Setting: Public domain website.

Results: Fifty-five videos were scored for adenotonsillectomy and forty-seven for ear tube surgery. The most common category was educational (65.3%) followed by testimonial (28.4%), and news program (9.8%). Testimonials were more common for adenotonsillectomy than ear tube surgery (41.8% vs. 12.8%, p=0.001). Testimonials had a significantly lower mean accuracy (2.23 vs. 2.62, p=0.02), comprehensiveness (1.71 vs. 2.22, p=0.007), and TA specific content (0.64 vs. 1.69, p=0.001) score than educational type videos. Only six videos (5.9%) received high scores in both video/audio quality and accuracy/comprehensiveness of content. There was no significant association between the accuracy and comprehensive score and views, posted "likes", posted "dislikes", and likes/dislikes ratio. There was an association between "likes" and mean video quality (Spearman's rho=0.262, p=0.008).

Conclusion: Parents/patients searching YouTube for information on pediatric adenotonsillectomy and ear tube surgery will generally encounter low quality information with testimonials being common but of significantly lower quality. Viewer perceived quality ("likes") did not correlate to formally scored content quality.

Keywords: Adenoidectomy; Ear tubes; Parent education; Patient education; Tonsillectomy; YouTube.

MeSH terms

  • Adenoidectomy / education*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Information Dissemination / methods*
  • Internet*
  • Male
  • Middle Ear Ventilation / education*
  • Parents / education*
  • Patients
  • Pediatrics
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Tonsillectomy / education*
  • Video Recording