Need information about hay fever? Steer clear of YouTube, a new study advises.
Researchers found misinformation about allergic rhinitis, the medical name for the disorder, in a large numbers of posts on the popular video-sharing site.
That’s significant, because 7 in 10 patients with a chronic disease are influenced by information they get online and a quarter of internet users have watched an online video about a health or medical problem, according to lead author Celine Lund-Nielsen Remvig, from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.
“Our study found that YouTube viewers may be unable to distinguish scientifically based information from misinformation,” Remvig said in a journal news release. “In reviewing YouTube videos on the topic of allergic rhinitis, we found that less than half of the videos provided useful information.”
For the study, the researchers analyzed 86 YouTube videos—including 33 for the search term allergic rhinitis; 31 for hay fever, and 22 for allergy.
Videos were classified as having useful content when information was scientifically accurate; misleading if it had at least one falsehood; or neutral.
About 36% of videos contained misleading hay fever information, and 43% on allergic rhinitis presented useful information, the study found.
“If our patients are going online to find information on their allergies, we want the information they find to be reliable,” said allergist Dr. David Stukus, an associate editor of the journal.
“This study found that medical/health associations tend to be the most reliable source of information, whereas TV shows and YouTube channels are responsible for the most misleading videos,” Stukus said in the release.
“All the videos uploaded by associations were categorized as useful, while only 32% of the videos uploaded by TV shows/YouTube channels were classified as useful,” he said.
In all, 17.5% of the videos were uploaded by a specialist, M.D. or a health care provider, and 39.5% were uploaded from a TV show or YouTube channel, the study found.