Medical Advice From YouTube?

Crohns videos on YouTube can be misleading

(RxWiki News) You turn to YouTube for advice, entertainment, cat videos, and practically everything else. So why shouldn't you look to the video-sharing site after you've been diagnosed with Crohn's?

A new study analyzing the top YouTube videos for Irritable Bowel Disease (IBD) found that although the site can provide education and support for patients, most of the IBD content posted was of poor quality.

"Go to your doctor, not YouTube, for questions about IBD."

Researchers at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation presented their findings at the American College of Gastroenterology's ACG) 76th Annual Scientific meeting in Washington, DC. Healthcare professionals are recognizing social media sites like YouTube as platforms for health information. It's common for patients and caregivers dealing with a healthcare condition to go online to find support, share experiences, and ask questions.

However, among the YouTube content that researchers surveyed, many of the videos were posted by pharmaceutical companies, but appeared as if they were posted by patients. These videos are advertisements meant to look like user-generated content, the researchers said, and patients should be aware of this. They also found videos posted by real patients, which provided potentially misleading information for other patients.

Crohn's disease is among the most common forms of IBD, which affect almost 1.4 million Americans. Crohn's is an inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. Crohn's can come in many different forms, and each patient might respond differently to each treatment. It can be difficult to manage the disease when it is diagnosed.

That's why people often turn to online support groups, where they can share first-hand experiences that their doctors may not personally relate to. Saurabh Mukewar, MD, an author of the study, cited reports that 55 percent of IBD patients are not satisfied with the information they get at their diagnosis. More than 50 percent of patients then turn to the internet for information.

The study authors concluded that YouTube is a powerful platform which should be used to deliver and receive healthcare information. Mukewar said that ideally, doctors who have IBD conditions themselves would upload videos with their personal experiences, and provide medically correct, trustworthy information.

Review Date: 
October 31, 2011