Fiction, Falsehoods, and Few Facts: Cross-Sectional Study on the Content-Related Quality of Atopic Eczema-Related Videos on YouTube

Simon M. Mueller*, Valentina N.S. Hongler, Pierre Jungo, Lucian Cajacob, Simon Schwegler, Esther H. Steveling, Zita Rose Manjaly Thomas, Oliver Fuchs, Alexander Navarini, Kathrin Scherer, Oliver Brandt

*Corresponding author for this work
3 Citations (Scopus)


Background: In recent years, YouTube has become a recognized source of medical information for health care consumers. Although YouTube has advantages in this context, there are potential dangers as videos may contain nonscientific, misleading, or even harmful information. Objective: As little is known about YouTube as a source of information on atopic dermatitis (AD), we investigated the content-related quality of AD videos and their perception among YouTube users. Methods: The quality of the 100 most viewed AD videos was assessed by using the Global Quality Scale (GQS) and the DISCERN instrument. Videos were classified as "useful," "misleading," and "potentially harmful," and the correlations of viewers' ratings (likes) with the GQS and DISCERN scores were assessed. Results: Among the 100 videos, 68.0% (68/100) and 62.0% (62/100) were of poor and very poor scientific quality, respectively. Additionally, 32.0% (32/100) of the videos were classified as useful, 48.0% (48/100) were classified as misleading, and 34.0% (34/100) were classified as potentially harmful. Viewers' ratings did not correlate with the GQS and DISCERN scores. Overall, 50.0% (50/100) of the videos were posted by private individuals and promoters of complementary/alternative treatments, 42.0% (42/100) by therapeutical advertisers, and only 8.0% (8/100) by nonprofit organizations/universities. Conclusions: Our study demonstrated that two-thirds of the videos analyzed were below acceptable medical quality standards and that many videos were disseminating misleading or even dangerous content. Subjective and anecdotal content was overrepresented, and viewers did not appear to be able to distinguish between high- and low-quality videos. Health promotion strategies by professional medical organizations are needed to improve their presence and visibility on YouTube.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere15599
JournalJournal of Medical Internet Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 01.04.2020

Research Areas and Centers

  • Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)


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