Less than half of the YouTube videos on allergic rhinitis provide useful information, study finds

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Want to build a spice rack for your kitchen? Pull up a YouTube video to see how it might be done. Got allergic rhinitis (hay fever) symptoms that just won't quit? Don't do a random YouTube search because the information you find there has a good chance of being inaccurate. A new study in Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, the scientific journal of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), showed misleading content generated a higher amount of user interaction in terms of likes and comments than videos with useful content.

According to research, 70% of patients with a chronic disease are influenced by information they get from online sources, and one quarter of internet users have watched an online video about a health or medical problem. Our study found that YouTube viewers may be unable to distinguish scientifically based information from misinformation. In reviewing YouTube videos on the topic of allergic rhinitis, we found that less than half of the videos provided useful information."

Celine Lund-Nielsen Remvig, BSc, lead author on the study

The study authors analyzed 86 YouTube videos: 33 for "allergic rhinitis", 31 for "hay fever" and 22 for "allergy." The content was classified as useful (conveying scientifically correct information), misleading (conveying at least one scientifically unproven detail), or neither useful nor misleading (not misleading, but does not provide useful information on epidemiology, symptoms, or diagnosis). Only 17.5% of the videos were uploaded by a specialist, MD or a healthcare provider, whereas 39.5% were uploaded from a TV show or YouTube channel.

"If our patients are going online to find information on their allergies, we want the information they find to be reliable," says allergist David Stukus, MD, an associate editor of Annals. Dr. Stukus was not involved in the research. "This study found that medical/health associations tend to be the most reliable source of information, whereas TV shows and YouTube channels are responsible for the most misleading videos. All the videos uploaded by associations were categorized as useful, while only 32% of the videos uploaded by TV shows/YouTube channels were classified as useful."

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