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How Prevalent is Bladder Cancer Misinformation on YouTube?

“Our results provide actionable information. Healthcare providers should recommend trustworthy sources of additional information for patients and should actively participate in social media for dissemination of evidence-based medicine.”

A large quantity of bladder cancer information is available on YouTube — much of it, however, is of moderate to poor quality.

That’s according to a study in European Urology, which analyzed the quality of bladder cancer information on the hugely popular and influential video platform and found lots of the content creates a risk of misinformation exposure for patients.

The study’s objective was to characterize the quality of information and presence of misinformation on YouTube. Recent studies have delved similarly into Twitter and other social media platforms.

Researchers reviewed the first 150 of 242,000 bladder cancer videos on YouTube using the Patient Education Materials Assessment Tool and the DISCERN quality criteria for consumer health information. They also looked for commercial bias within the videos or in the comments and assessed YouTube’s use for peer-to-peer advice.

The videos had a median of 2,288 views, and 44 of them were found to contain misinformation. The overall quality of information was deemed moderate to poor in 67 percent of videos, using the DISCERN criteria. A moderate-to-high amount of misinformation was present in 21 percent of the videos, which reached almost 1.3 million viewers.

Researchers found a “significant positive correlation” between videos containing misinformation and views per month. Videos featuring a doctor (57 percent) were less likely to contain misinformation but had significantly fewer views, according to the study.

Commercial bias was apparent in 17 percent of videos. Sixteen percent of videos recommended complementary or alternative medicine and 19 percent favored new technology.

In analyzing the 20 bladder cancer videos with the most views:

  • Median number of views was 94,741
  • Quality was determined to be moderate to poor in 78 percent of videos
  • 28 percent of videos contained misinformation
  • 67 percent of videos had medical advice requested in comment section, and 44 percent had medical advice given in comments

“Our results provide actionable information. Healthcare providers should recommend trustworthy sources of additional information for patients and should actively participate in social media for dissemination of evidence-based medicine,” the authors write. “There is a great need for accurate content about bladder cancer that is also understandable and actionable.”

What are some trustworthy sources? The authors direct patients to the YouTube channels of the Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network or the Urology Care Foundation, both of which contain videos with high-quality information.

May is Bladder Cancer Awareness Month. Bladder cancer is the 10th most common cancer in the world and the second most common urological cancer. The American Cancer Society estimates 83,720 people in the U.S. will be diagnosed with bladder cancer in 2021 and 17,000 will die from it this year.

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