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Descriptive Analysis of the Most Viewed Youtube Videos Related to the Opioid Epidemic

Randolph-Krisova, Andrea

In 2016, over 11 million people misused prescription opioids and the economic costs were estimated to be over $500 billion. In the same year, opioids killed 42,000 people, which was more than any year on record. These data highlight the need to reduce the harm caused to individuals, families, communities, and the nation. One element of a more comprehensive national strategy is increasing awareness among citizens, physicians and policy makers. Given its widespread reach YouTube can be very helpful. There is a large literature on the opiate epidemic, but no published studies describing the sources or content of YouTube videos on the opiate epidemic were identified. This study was, therefore, intended to help fill this gap in current knowledge.
YouTube was searched using two key terms, “opiate addiction” and “opioids.” The results were sorted by number of views, and the URL, title, and number of views were saved for videos with a minimum of 1,500 views. Videos were then screened for the inclusion and exclusion criteria. The remaining sample comprised 309 videos.
Collectively, these 309 videos were viewed 44,693,887 times. The results revealed the sources that were most viewed and the nature of content that was and was not likely to be covered. The two main sources of videos were Internet Based and Television news/Entertainment. Compared with videos with health professions as the main speaker, those featuring consumers garnered almost 10 times as many cumulative views (30.35%versus 3.24%). Government organizations uploaded 11 videos (< 4%), collectively garnering 343,983 views (less than 1% of cumulative views).
YouTube represents an important opportunity for health promotion and disease prevention regarding the opiate epidemic. However, improved understanding about ways to communicate accurate and useful information in ways that attract viewers is needed. Recommendations for research, policy and practice are presented relevant to how YouTube can help mitigate the harm caused by the opiate epidemic.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Health and Behavior Studies
Thesis Advisors
Basch, Charles E.
Degree
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
June 5, 2018