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PLoS One. 2013 Dec 18;8(12):e82469. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0082469. eCollection 2013.

Is content really king? An objective analysis of the public's response to medical videos on YouTube.

Author information

  • 1Division of Nephrology and Hypertension, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, United States of America.
  • 2Department of Internal Medicine, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, United States of America.
  • 3Department of Physiology, NC State University, Raleigh, North Carolina, United States of America.
  • 4Northeast Georgia Diagnostic Clinics, Gainseville, Georgia, United States of America.

Abstract

Medical educators and patients are turning to YouTube to teach and learn about medical conditions. These videos are from authors whose credibility cannot be verified & are not peer reviewed. As a result, studies that have analyzed the educational content of YouTube have reported dismal results. These studies have been unable to exclude videos created by questionable sources and for non-educational purposes. We hypothesize that medical education YouTube videos, authored by credible sources, are of high educational value and appropriately suited to educate the public. Credible videos about cardiovascular diseases were identified using the Mayo Clinic's Center for Social Media Health network. Content in each video was assessed by the presence/absence of 7 factors. Each video was also evaluated for understandability using the Suitability Assessment of Materials (SAM). User engagement measurements were obtained for each video. A total of 607 videos (35 hours) were analyzed. Half of all videos contained 3 educational factors: treatment, screening, or prevention. There was no difference between the number of educational factors present & any user engagement measurement (p NS). SAM scores were higher in videos whose content discussed more educational factors (p<0.0001). However, none of the user engagement measurements correlated with higher SAM scores. Videos with greater educational content are more suitable for patient education but unable to engage users more than lower quality videos. It is unclear if the notion "content is king" applies to medical videos authored by credible organizations for the purposes of patient education on YouTube.

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