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Stem Cell Reports. 2019 Jun 11;12(6):1186-1189. doi: 10.1016/j.stemcr.2019.05.009.

How to Peddle Hope: An Analysis of YouTube Patient Testimonials of Unproven Stem Cell Treatments.

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EmSTAT, Upstate Medical University, 550 East Genesee Street, Suite 103, Syracuse, NY 13202, USA.
Department of Pediatrics, Children's Hospital of Richmond, VCU Health, PO BOX 980264, Richmond, VA 23298, USA.
School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, 420 Delaware Street SE, # Mmc88, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA.
Health Law Institute, Faculty of Law, School of Public Health and Health Law Institute, University of Alberta, 461 Law Centre, Edmonton, AB T6G 2H5, Canada.
Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy, University of Regina, 3rd Floor, 2155 College Avenue, Regina, SK S4S 0A2, Canada.
Biomedical Ethics Research Program and Center for Regenerative Medicine, Mayo Clinic, 200 First Street, SW, Rochester, MN 55905, USA. Electronic address:


Providers capitalize on patient testimonials to market unproven stem cell treatments (SCTs). We evaluated 159 YouTube videos and found patients discussed health improvements (91.2%), praised providers (53.5%), and recommended SCTs (28.9%). In over a third of the videos, providers posed questions to patients, thereby directing narratives and making them a powerful marketing tool.

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