Navigating Radiation Therapy During COVID-19 Using YouTube as a Source of Information

J Cancer Educ. 2022 Jan 14;1-7. doi: 10.1007/s13187-022-02133-3. Online ahead of print.


The COVID-19 pandemic brought considerable change to the practice of radiotherapy. In the meantime, patients are increasingly turning to online resources for health information, with YouTube being one of the biggest platforms. However, little is known about what information is being disseminated to cancer patients about radiotherapy in the context of COVID-19. Therefore, this study aims to characterize and assess YouTube videos on radiotherapy during COVID-19. A YouTube search using the terms "Radiation therapy COVID-19", "Radiation therapy coronavirus", "Radiotherapy COVID-19", and "Radiotherapy coronavirus" was completed using a clear-cache web browser. The top 50 videos were collected from each search. After applying pre-determined exclusion criteria, each video was assessed for general parameters, source, and content. Two raters were used to ensure interrater reliability. One hundred five unique videos resulted from the four searches. Ninety-eight per cent were published in the last year. The median video length was 6 min and 54 s, and the median number of views was 570. Most videos were from the USA (58%). The majority of videos were published by a commercial channel (31%), non-profit organization (28%), or healthcare facility (26%). Forty-two per cent of the videos covered a topic related to radiotherapy during the pandemic. Bias was identified in 6% of videos. YouTube information on radiotherapy during COVID-19 is non-specific and can be misleading. The results of this study highlight the need for healthcare providers to proactively address patient information needs and guide them to appropriate sources of information.

Keywords: COVID-19; Online health information; Patient education; Quality assessment; Radiation therapy; Radiotherapy.