Theses Doctoral

Descriptive Analysis of the Most Viewed YouTube Videos Related to Breast Cancer Survivors

Arias, Randi Kay

With the increasing number of breast cancer survivors, there is a need to enhance health education to help survivors make informed decisions about maximizing their quality of life. YouTube is one of the most popular video applications that can be used for public health education. Nonetheless, there is little research on the content of health-related information that is uploaded to YouTube relevant to breast cancer survivors. This study was intended to help fill that gap in knowledge by describing the sources, formats, and content conveyed in the most widely viewed YouTube videos on breast cancer.

YouTube was searched with a cleared browsing history using the key search term “breast cancer.” The resulting videos were sorted by view count. Videos were then screened for inclusion and exclusion criteria, yielding a sample of 100 videos with the most views. Video title, link, number of views, and date of upload were coded along with content included in each video. The inter- and intra-rater reliability was acceptable (Kappa’s = .79 and .97, respectively). The sample of 100 videos was collectively viewed 135,311,626 times, suggesting that the subject of breast cancer is a popular topic on YouTube.

Nearly half of the sample videos (n = 45) were uploaded by television news/media agencies. Combined/multiple formats were the most popular format (n = 61), followed by still images/text (n = 48). General information on cancer was found to be the most common (n = 71), followed by screening for breast cancer occurrence/ recurrence (n = 62), and cancer treatments/breast cancer treatments (n = 45). Several of the content categories were rarely covered in the most-watched videos—for example, cancer rehabilitation recommendations, returning to work after cancer treatment, and financial burden/management of cancer.

Thus, while topics such as breast cancer screening are widely covered, topics for breast cancer survivors regarding maximizing their quality of life are less widely covered. Few videos (n = 3) contained misinformation, but these videos were viewed millions of times, emphasizing the need for ongoing monitoring to identify and remove misinformation. The findings of this study indicated that YouTube videos on breast cancer gained over 135 million views. YouTube can be a great media channel for public health education. Nonetheless, there is significant need for more high-quality YouTube videos to be created to help breast cancer survivors navigate their cancer journey.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Health and Behavior Studies
Thesis Advisors
Basch, Charles E.
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
June 14, 2023