YouTube as a tool for pain management with informal caregivers of cancer patients: a systematic review

J Pain Symptom Manage. 2014 Dec;48(6):1200-10. doi: 10.1016/j.jpainsymman.2014.02.015. Epub 2014 Apr 30.


Context: Cancer caregivers have information and support needs, especially about cancer pain management. With high Internet use reported among caregivers, YouTube may be an accessible option when looking for information on cancer pain management.

Objectives: The purpose of this study was to explore the availability and characteristics of instructional cancer pain management videos on YouTube and determine to what extent these videos addressed the role of informal caregivers in cancer pain management.

Methods: A systematic review of videos on YouTube resulting from search terms "pain and cancer," "pain and hospice," and "pain and palliative care" was conducted in May 2013. If the video addressed pain management, was in English, and was instructional, it was coded for the scope and design of instructional content that included caregivers.

Results: The search terms yielded 1118 unique videos, and 43 videos met the inclusion criteria. Overall, 63% of videos were viewed 500 times or less, and half of the videos received "like" ratings by viewers. Video instruction was primarily talk without any onscreen action (65%), user-generated amateur video (79%), and had poor quality sources of information. Videos were mainly clinician centered (77%). Although most videos addressed the need for caregiver pain assessment (35%) and caregiver education (23%), few actually addressed specific caregiver pain management barriers.

Conclusion: Most videos were primarily directed toward a clinical audience. Future research is necessary to determine if the platform is feasible and beneficial as a support tool for oncology caregivers.

Keywords: Instructional films and videos; cancer; caregivers; pain management.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Caregivers / education*
  • Health Education / methods*
  • Humans
  • Internet*
  • Neoplasms / physiopathology*
  • Neoplasms / therapy
  • Pain / physiopathology
  • Pain Management / methods*
  • Video Recording*