05 July 2012
Seventy-four per cent of videos on YouTube provide helpful and accurate information for patients about primary bone tumours, according to a new study published in the Royal College of Surgeons of England Bulletin.
The study, carried out at the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, aimed to investigate whether YouTube, which has over 2 billion views per day and 24 hours of video uploaded per minute, was a useful or misleading guide for patients with primary bone tumours. The clinicians involved in the research found that while 24% of videos contained no useful information, only 2% were misleading.
Primary bone tumours make up 3-5% of childhood cancers and less than 1% of cancers in adults, yet delays in diagnosis are common and lack of awareness is contributory. The study is important as it examines an area of health information provision for this patient group that is widely used but not extensively researched. It demonstrates that YouTube can help raise awareness, be a source of good information and provide an important step in reducing late diagnosis of Primary bone tumours.
The authors of the paper searched the site using key words, including ‘primary bone tumour’ and ‘primary bone cancer’. All videos uploaded since the advent of the site in 2005 were included in the search. A number of data items were obtained from each video, including the source of the video and the number of likes/dislikes that the video had.
Overall, around three quarters of the videos were helpful. These were provided by medical professionals, health information websites and universities and contained accurate information on symptoms, diagnosis and treatment. Over a third (36%) of videos provided by independent users contained no information.
Craig Gerrand, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon, co-author of the report, and Trustee of the Bone Cancer Research Trust said: ‘Video has become one of the most popular sources of information on the Internet, and our study shows that good information can be found on YouTube when viewers use the right search terms. However, we recommend that they check the source of the video first, and consider watching several videos to get a good sample of what is available. The popularity of videos isn’t a reliable guide to their quality.’
Sue Woodward, chair of the Patient Liaison Group of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, said: ‘The growing digital landscape means more and more patients are going online to look up information regarding illness or forthcoming operations. Studies like this are crucial in guiding patients on how to search for and identify useful information and avoid them becoming even more worried or confused.’
The Royal College of Surgeons, alongside its Patient Liaison Group, produces accurate, free and independent information for patients regarding both common surgical procedures and recovering from an operation in the patient information section on its website: http://www.rcseng.ac.uk/patient_information The Bone Cancer Research Trust provides information about primary bone tumours for patients and families (www.bcrt.org.uk).
A copy of the paper can be found here
Notes to Editor:
1. The Royal College of Surgeons of England is committed to enabling surgeons to achieve and maintain the highest standards of surgical practice and patient care. Registered charity number: 212808. For more information please visit www.rcseng.ac.uk.
2. YouTube has been evaluated as a source of information on various topics, including prostate cancer, quitting smoking and tobacco use and the HIN influenza pandemic.
3. Sources surveyed were: Independent users, charity, health information websites, medical professional, news networks, and university sites.
4. Videos deemed irrelevant to the search term – non-English videos and videos dealing with animals were excluded.
5. Other keywords in the search included ‘osteosarcoma,’ ‘chondrosarcoma’ and ‘Ewing’s sarcoma’
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