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Popular on YouTube: A critical appraisal of the educational quality of information regarding asthma

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Asthma affects >300 million people globally, including 25 million in the United States. Patients with asthma frequently use the Internet as a source of information. YouTube is one of the three most popular Web sites.


To determine the educational quality of YouTube videos for asthma.


We performed a YouTube search by using the keyword “asthma.” The 200 most frequently viewed relevant videos were included in the study. Asthma videos were analyzed for characteristics, source, and content. Source was further classified as asthma health care provider, other health care provider, patient, pharmaceutical company, and professional society and/or media. A scoring system was created to evaluate quality (−10 to 30 points). Negative points were assigned for misleading information.


Two hundred videos were analyzed, with a median of 18,073.5 views, 31.5 likes, and 2 dislikes, which spanned a median of 172 seconds. More video presenters were male (60.5%). The most common type of video source was other health care providers (34.5%). The most common video content was alternative treatments (38.0%), including live-fish ingestion; reflexology; acupressure and/or acupuncture; Ayurveda; yoga; raw food, vegan, gluten-free diets; marijuana; Buteyko breathing; and salt therapy. Scores for videos supplied by asthma health care providers were statistically significantly different from other sources (p < 0.001) and had the highest average score (9.91).


YouTube videos of asthma were frequently viewed but were a poor source of accurate health care information. Videos by asthma health care providers were rated highest in quality. The allergy/immunology community has a clear opportunity to enhance the value of educational material on YouTube.
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Keywords: Asthma; Internet; YouTube; content analysis; health informatics; health information systems; patient education; social media; video

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, Ohio, USA

Publication date: 01 November 2015

More about this publication?
  • Allergy and Asthma Proceedings is a peer reviewed publication dedicated to distributing timely scientific research regarding advancements in the knowledge and practice of allergy, asthma and immunology. Its primary readership consists of allergists and pulmonologists.

    The goal of the Proceedings is to publish articles with a predominantly clinical focus which directly impact quality of care for patients with allergic disease and asthma.

    Featured topics include asthma, rhinitis, sinusitis, food allergies, allergic skin diseases, diagnostic techniques, allergens, and treatment modalities. Published material includes peer-reviewed original research, clinical trials and review articles.

    Articles marked "F" offer free full text for personal noncommercial use only.

    The journal is indexed in Thomson Reuters Web of Science and Science Citation Index Expanded, plus the National Library of Medicine's PubMed service.
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