Aim End-stage renal disease is a prevalent and growing health problem worldwide. With increasing Internet use, video-sharing websites could potentially serve as a powerful platform for dissemination of information on dialysis. We conducted a cross-sectional study to assess the accuracy, content and viewership of YouTube videos on dialysis. Methods YouTube videos identified using the search term 'dialysis' were classified independently by two physicians as 'useful,' 'misleading' and 'patient's personal experiences'. Five-point ordinal scales were used to grade reliability and quality. Information regarding source of upload, content in seven pre-defined domains and various viewer interaction metrics was collected. Results Of the 115 videos with cumulative duration of 16.2 h and viewership of approximately 2.7 million, 67 (58.3%) were useful, 19 (16.5%) were misleading and 29 (25.2%) represented patient's personal experiences; kappa statistic for inter-observer agreement was 0.985. Useful videos were the most comprehensive and had the highest reliability and quality scores. However, viewership per day was the lowest for useful videos at a median of 3 (interquartile range (IQR) 1-17), as compared with 11 (IQR 4-43) for misleading videos and 14 (IQR 5-30) for patient experiences (P = 0.013). All misleading videos were uploaded by individual users with unknown credentials. Of these, 68.4% promoted alternative therapies such as herbs and osmotherapy; 47.4% included advertisements for related services. Conclusions Viewers favoured misleading videos and patient narratives over scientifically accurate information. Authoritative sources should use popular social media websites to provide relevant and easy-to-understand information on dialysis; including patient stories can make this material more engaging. Summary at a Glance The Internet has provided easy access to health information. This paper evaluates the quality of information about dialysis from one popular website and the results are informative in many ways.
- social media
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