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YouTube videos as a source of information about clinical trials

Hillyer, Grace A.; MacLean, Sarah A.; Beauchemin, Melissa; Basch, Corey H.; Schmitt, Karen M.; Segall, Leslie E.; Kelsen, Moshe A.; Brogan, Frances L.; Schwartz, Gary K.

Background: Clinical trials are essential to the advancement of cancer treatment but fewer than 5% of adult cancer patients enroll in a trial. A commonly cited barrier to participation is the lack of understanding about clinical trials.

Objective: Since the internet is a popular source of health-related information and YouTube is the second most visited website in the world, we examined the content of the top 115 YouTube videos about clinical trials to evaluate clinical trial information available through this medium.

Methods: YouTube videos posted prior to March 2017 were searched using selected keywords. A snowballing technique was used to identify videos wherein sequential screening of the autofill search results for each set of keywords was conducted. Video characteristics (eg, number of views and video length) were recorded. The content was broadly grouped as related to purpose, phases, design, safety and ethics, and participant considerations. Stepwise multivariable logistic regression analysis was conducted to assess associations between video type (cancer vs noncancer) and video characteristics and content.

Results: In total, 115 videos were reviewed. Of these, 46/115 (40.0%) were cancer clinical trials videos and 69/115 (60.0%) were noncancer/general clinical trial videos. Most videos were created by health care organizations/cancer centers (34/115, 29.6%), were oriented toward patients (67/115, 58.3%) and the general public (68/115, 59.1%), and were informational (79/115, 68.7%); altruism was a common theme (31/115, 27.0%). Compared with noncancer videos, cancer clinical trials videos more frequently used an affective communication style and mentioned the benefits of participation. Cancer clinical trial videos were also much more likely to raise the issue of costs associated with participation (odds ratio [OR] 5.93, 95% CI 1.15-29.46) and advise patients to communicate with their physician about cancer clinical trials (OR 4.94, 95% CI 1.39-17.56).

Conclusions: Collectively, YouTube clinical trial videos provided information on many aspects of trials; however, individual videos tended to focus on selected topics with varying levels of detail. Cancer clinical trial videos were more emotional in style and positive in tone and provided information on the important topics of cost and communication. Patients are encouraged to verify and supplement YouTube video information in consultations with their health care professionals to obtain a full and accurate picture of cancer clinical trials to make an adequately informed decision about participation.


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Also Published In

JMIR Cancer

More About This Work

Academic Units
Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center
Published Here
November 6, 2020