By Dr. Daniel Wallach, dermatologist – Paris
Freemyer B, Drozd B, Suare A.
A cross-sectional study of YouTube videos about atopic dermatitis.
J Am Acad Dermatol 2018;78:612-613.
Patients looking for information on atopic dermatitis are likely to use YouTube. We are aware that this free platform designed for sharing videos hosts vast quantities of videos with no guarantee of quality, in any sense of the word. The authors examined 128 videos on AD in English. They were categorized as "useful" or "misleading" depending on their content. The useful videos contained correct information, useful advice and educational personal experiences. The misleading videos were promoting various diets without any scientific backing; or claiming the supposed benefits of useless "treatments", or even giving negative opinions on topical corticosteroids.
It is easy to feel lost amongst the sheer volume of videos which contain the best and worst advice. This is not a problem which is unique to the Internet or even less so to YouTube itself. Aesop, who lived 2,500 years ago, was quoted as saying that language represents the best and worst of things, and the same is true of the written word. Let's reconsider YouTube for a moment.
This study demonstrated that it is relatively easy in reality to distinguish between useful and misleading videos: knowing where they come from is usually enough. The videos issued by universities, professional organizations or government agencies were all useful; those which came from "health websites" were less reliable, while the majority of those relating to commercial adverts were misleading. Among the videos containing personal experiences, those which came from health professionals were all useful, while the reliability of others was uncertain.
Therefore, it is important to recommend that patients consult the origins of videos that they watch when searching for information on eczema or atopic dermatitis. And it goes without saying that the Eczema Foundation only ever gives out the most useful information!