Seasonal influenza is a respiratory illness caused by the influenza virus. During the 2017-2018 flu season, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted approximately 959,000 hospitalizations and 79,400 deaths from influenza. We sought to evaluate the educational quality of informational videos pertaining to seasonal influenza on the popular social media forum, YouTube.
Using the keywords “seasonal influenza,” all videos from 28 January to 5 February 2017 were included and analyzed for characteristics, source, and content. The source was further classified as healthcare provider, alternative-medicine provider, the patient and/or their parents, company, media, or professional society. Videos about other categories of influenza (e.g. swine or Spanish) or in foreign languages were excluded. A total of 10 blinded reviewers scored each video independently.
Overall, 300 videos were analyzed, with a median of 341.50 views, 1.00 likes, 0 dislikes, and 0 comments. Based on the average scores of videos by source, there was statistically significant difference in the average score among videos by video source ( < 0.01). Healthcare provider videos had the highest mean scores whereas alternative medicine provider videos had the lowest.
Although the aforementioned video sources scored higher than others, these videos did not fulfill our criteria as far as educating patients thoroughly. Our data also suggest alternative medicine and patient source videos were misleading for patients.Clinical implications: Although videos by healthcare providers were a better source of information, videos on seasonal influenza were shown to be poor sources of valid healthcare information. This study reiterates the need for higher-quality educational videos on seasonal influenza by the medical community.

© The Author(s) 2020.