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A Descriptive Analysis of the Most Viewed YouTube Videos Related to Depression

Baquero, Elizabeth Pessin

Depression contributes to a host of health problems resulting in disability, pain, and death. An important aspect of preventing and reducing the harmful effects of depression is educating the public about this pervasive mental disorder, including the importance of early detection and effective treatment. During the past 20 years, many people have turned to the Internet in general and social media in particular to learn about health.
Current research has examined YouTube coverage of some mental health topics, but no published research describing YouTube coverage of depression was identified. The purpose of this study was, therefore, to describe the most viewed YouTube about depression with respect to source, speaker, format, purpose, number of views, length, upload year, and content. A cross-sectional design was used to examine the 394 most viewed YouTube videos on depression.
Collectively, these 394 videos were viewed 155,349,029 times. Three sources—consumers, internet-based video, and nongovernmental agencies—accounted for approximately 85% of the most frequently viewed videos and garnered 93% of the total views (n=144,506,467). Consumers uploaded almost half of all the most widely viewed videos (n=193, 48.98%), and these videos had the highest cumulative view count (74,391,500 views).
Content mainly focused on signs and symptoms, which were covered in more than 75% of the videos (n=300, 76.14%), and promotion of healthful behaviors and protective factors, which was covered in 68.52% (n=270). Slightly more than one-half of the videos explicitly mentioned risk factors (n=200), and slightly less than one-half provided general information about depression (n=189). Between 20% and 35% of the videos included content related to suicide (23.10%), stigma (22.08%), psychotherapy (28.93%), medication (31.22%), and alternative therapies (30.96%). Content related to screening was only included in 9 of the most widely videos (2.28%). While good sleep hygiene was only mentioned in 28 videos (7.11%), collectively, these videos received over 16 million views. Another main finding was that governmental agencies have not produced videos that are among those most widely viewed. Given YouTube’s wide reach, they should, however, be using this media channel to help inform the public.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Health and Behavior Studies
Thesis Advisors
Basch, Charles
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
February 27, 2018