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YouTube poor source of palliative information


Major finding: In all, 133 palliative care videos (28%) were good quality and 335 were poor quality (72%).

Data source: Retrospective analysis of 468 YouTube videos.

Disclosures: The authors reported having no financial disclosures.

NEW ORLEANS – Just 28% of 468 videos sampled from YouTube were rated as having useful information on palliative care, hospice, or end of life, while 72% were considered poor quality.

Unfortunately, the poor information is getting much more exposure: Poor-quality videos averaged about 28,056,711 million hits, compared with only about 11,808 hits for the good-quality videos, Benjamin Getter, D.O., said at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine.

Dr. Benjamin Getter

One reason may be the sheer volume of videos and that patients are likely to use filters or broad search terms such as "palliative care" or "pain." YouTube queues up videos containing those words based on viewer count, so when view counts are low, videos get pushed back further on search results page.

"Studies have shown that whether it’s Google or YouTube, the distance you will go looking for your information decreases exponentially," he said. "The third page of Google might as well not exist."

Dr. Getter pointed out that more than 700 YouTube videos are shared on Twitter each minute and that 100 million people take some social action be it sharing, liking, or commenting on YouTube every week. Younger generations are also using YouTube videos as a source of news, "This is something we need to take advantage of," he said.

Dr. Getter and his coauthor, Dr. Wesam Aziz, both palliative medicine fellows at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, identified the 468 YouTube videos by relevance and view count search strategies, and independently categorized them as useful, misleading, or personal experience. Videos creators fell into one of five categories: health care institutions, media/news organizations, hospices, universities, and individuals.

Video quality was "good" if the video had useful information, including relevant personal experiences, or "not good" if the video was misleading or not related to palliative care. In all, 133 videos were of good quality (28%) and 335 not-good quality (72%).

Dr. Getter acknowledged that the rating system was subjective, but said in an interview that "In 98% of cases, it was exceedingly obvious." For example, videos on nociceptive pain caused by trauma were obviously unrelated to palliative care pain, whereas the AAHPM’s "You're Sick. It's Serious" video was clearly useful and accurate.

As expected, good-quality videos were significantly more likely to come from educational or health care institutions, whereas poor quality videos were typically uploaded by independent sources and the news media.

"More outreach is needed to educate the public and news organizations about palliative care," he said at the meeting, also sponsored by the Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association.

Dr. Getter suggested health care organizations also could do more, such as casting a wider net for their videos and using keywords and search terms in their content to optimize their videos for search engines, a process known as search engine optimization.

"Share, share, share; be your own advocate," he urged. "You’d be surprised at how many of these videos that were great and were uploaded by health care and hospice organizations can’t be found anywhere on their websites. To me, it just seems kind of silly to go to all the trouble producing these things and not have the exposure."

The authors reported having no financial disclosures.

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