A quality assessment of YouTube as an information resource for tonsillectomy

Int J Pediatr Otorhinolaryngol. 2024 May:180:111955. doi: 10.1016/j.ijporl.2024.111955. Epub 2024 Apr 16.


Purpose: Online resources are increasingly being utilised by patients to guide their clinical decision making, as an alternative or supplement to the traditional clinical-patient relationship. YouTube is an online repository of user and community generated videos, which is one of the most popular websites globally. We undertook a study to examine the quality of information presented in YouTube videos related to tonsillectomy.

Methods: We completed a systematic search of YouTube in May 2023 and identified 88 videos for inclusion in our study. Videos were published in the English language, focussing on tonsillectomy and tonsillectomy recovery, and were greater than 2 min in length. We recorded video quality metrics and two authors independently analysed the quality of information using three validated quality assessment tools described in the literature including the modified DISCERN, Global Quality Score, and the JAMA Benchmark Criteria.

Results: The overall quality of the information was low with mean quality scores of Modified DISCERN (1.8 ± 1.3), GQS (2.6 ± 1.2), and JAMA Benchmark Criteria (1.6 ± 0.7). Information published by medical sources including medical professionals, healthcare organisations, and medical education channels scored significantly higher compared to non-medical sources across all quality measures and were of moderate overall quality and usefulness: Modified DISCERN (2.5 ± 1.1 vs 0.8 ± 0.9, z = -6.0, p < 0.001), GQS (3.2 ± 1.0 vs 1.7 ± 0.9, z = -5.7, p < 0.001), and JAMA (1.9 ± 0.8 vs 1.1 ± 0.3, z = -5.2, p < 0.001). Videos published during or after 2018 scored higher on Modified DISCERN (z = -3.2,p = 0.001) but not on GQS or JAMA. Video quality metrics such as total view count, likes, and comments, and channel subscriber count, did not correlate with higher video quality. However, amongst videos published by authoritative medical sources, total view count correlated positively with higher Modified DISCERN quality scores (p = 0.037).

Conclusion: The overall quality and usefulness of YouTube videos on tonsillectomy is of low quality, but information published by authoritative medical sources score significantly higher. Clinicians should be mindful of increasing use of online information sources such as YouTube when counselling patients. Further research is needed in the medical community to create engaging, high-quality content to provide guidance for patients.

Keywords: DISCERN score; Health information; Patient information; Social media; YouTube.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Information Dissemination / methods
  • Patient Education as Topic / methods
  • Patient Education as Topic / standards
  • Social Media*
  • Tonsillectomy* / education
  • Video Recording*