Background: Approximately 80% of internet users access health information online and patients with chronic illnesses especially rely on internet-based resources. YouTube ranks second among the most accessed websites worldwide and hosts an increasing number of videos with medical information. However, their quality is sometimes unscientific, misleading, or even harmful.
Objective: As little is known about YouTube as a source of information on psoriasis, we aimed to investigate the quality of psoriasis-related videos and, if necessary, point out strategies for their improvement.
Methods: The quality of the 100 most viewed psoriasis-related videos was assessed using the DISCERN instrument and the Global Quality Scale (GQS) by categorizing the videos into useful, misleading, and dangerous and by evaluating the reception of the videos by users.
Results: Evaluation of the videos exhibited a total of 117,221,391 views and a total duration of 10:28 hour. The majority of clips contained anecdotal personal experiences with complementary and alternative psoriasis treatments, topical treatments, and nutrition and diets being the most frequently addressed topics. While advertisements accounted for 26.0% (26/100) of the videos, evidence-based health information amounted to only 20.0% (20/100); 32.0% (32/100) of the videos were classified as useful, 52.0% (52/100) as misleading, and 11.0% (11/100) as even dangerous. The quality of the videos evaluated by DISCERN and GQS was generally low (1.87 and 1.95, respectively, on a 1 to 5 scale with 5 being the maximum). Moreover, we found that viewers rated poor-quality videos better than higher quality videos.
Conclusions: Our in-depth study demonstrates that nearly two-thirds of the psoriasis-related videos we analyzed disseminate misleading or even dangerous content. Subjective anecdotal and unscientific content is disproportionately overrepresented and poor-quality videos are predominantly rated positively by users, while higher quality video clips receive less positive ratings. Strategies by professional dermatological organizations are urgently needed to improve the quality of information on psoriasis on YouTube and other social media.
Keywords: YouTube videos; dangerous content; layperson; misleading information; poor quality; psoriasis.
©Simon M Mueller, Pierre Jungo, Lucian Cajacob, Simon Schwegler, Peter Itin, Oliver Brandt. Originally published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (http://www.jmir.org), 16.01.2019.