Are Informational C. Difficile Videos on YouTube Reliable?

The researchers believe their study is the first to examine C. Diff content on YouTube.

There is a need for popular videos emphasizing prevention tactics for Clostridium difficile (C. diff), according to new research.

In what is believed to be the first examination of C. diff on YouTube, investigators from William Paterson University searched online in order to describe the content of the most popular C. Diff videos. The authors used the phrases “C. Diff” and “C. diff” to find the top viewed 100 videos through March 15, 2017.

“Physicians should be aware that patients are searching the Internet at increasing rates and that the information they find can often be misleading or incomplete,” study author Corey Basch 9pictured), MPH told MD Magazine. “It is always important for patients to search for information from trusted sources, such as government agencies or those with necessary qualifications to produce reliable information.”

Videos found that were in Spanish, other languages, or were duplicates were excluded. Data about the date uploaded, the source of upload, the gender of people in the video, number of views, length in minutes, the thumbs-up-thumbs-down voting system, and the presence of designated content areas were included. Additionally, the researchers noted if the source of upload was a consumer (no professional credentials; laypersons), professional (PhD, MD, RN, etc., or health organizations), or news based.

Using the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American College of Gastroenterology fact sheets to organize the content, they rated the videos ‘yes’ or ‘no’ for the following categories: information about C. Diff, personal experience with C. Diff, death, and recurrence rates. The study authors also made a note if the videos discussed the causes of C. Diff, any of the symptoms, or diagnosis, treatment, and prevention strategies.

In total, the videos were viewed 1.6 million times. Consumers, professionals, and news organizations uploaded one-third of the videos each, respectively. The majority of the videos (59%) were uploaded between 2011 and 2014, while the remaining were uploaded before 2010 (14%), and between 2015 and 2017 (27%). Men were more likely than females to communicate in the videos, 38% to 22%, respectively. In 20% of the videos, there were both male and female people in the videos; but there were also no humans in 20% of the videos.

The views on the videos ranged between 158 and 178836, while the length ranged as well, from 30 seconds to 64 minutes. Most of the time, videos earned thumbs up (96%).

Most of the videos focused on general information, overuse of antibiotics, and symptomatic diarrhea. Recurrence rates and toxins released from spores were more often mentioned in videos uploaded by professionals, which less often discussed personal experiences. Modes of transmission were discussed in just a third of news videos, but 60% of consumer videos and 62% of professional videos.

None of the videos were produced by US governmental agencies, the researchers noted. They did add that similar studies have found a limited number of videos from US government sources among the most widely viewed videos.

Dr. Basch added that especially while using YouTube, it is often difficult for a patient — or anyone – to discern i the information is reliable. This is partially because settings can be staged and other aspects of the video can be manipulated or otherwise edited.

Patients, therefore, should “proceed with caution when searching for health information on the Internet,” Dr. Basch concluded. “It’s advisable that patients verify information with their physician before making decisions about their health.”

The paper, was published in the Journal of Infection and Public Health.