Public Online Information About Tinnitus: A Cross-Sectional Study of Youtube Videos

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Noise and Health






Purpose: To examine the information about tinnitus contained in different video sources on YouTube.

Materials and Methods: The 100 most widely viewed tinnitus videos were manually coded. Firstly, we identified the sources of upload: consumer, professional, television-based clip, and internet-based clip. Secondly, the videos were analyzed to ascertain what pertinent information they contained from a current National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders fact sheet.

Results: Of the videos, 42 were consumer-generated, 33 from media, and 25 from professionals. Collectively, the 100 videos were viewed almost 9 million times. The odds of mentioning “objective tinnitus” in professional videos were 9.58 times those from media sources [odds ratio (OR) = 9.58; 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.94, 47.42; P = 0.01], whereas these odds in consumer videos were 51% of media-generated videos (OR = 0.51; 95% CI: 0.20, 1.29; P = 0.16). The odds that the purpose of a video was to sell a product or service were nearly the same for both consumer and professional videos. Consumer videos were found to be 4.33 times as likely to carry a theme about an individual’s own experience with tinnitus (OR = 4.33; 95% CI: 1.62, 11.63; P = 0.004) as media videos.

Conclusions: Of the top 100 viewed videos on tinnitus, most were uploaded by consumers, sharing individuals’ experiences. Actions are needed to make scientific medical information more prominently available and accessible on YouTube and other social media.