Theses Doctoral

Descriptive Analysis of the Most Widely Viewed YouTube™ Videos Related to Diabetes Self-Management

Narayanan, Sandhya

As of 2021, nearly 538 million adults and children live with diabetes mellitus worldwide, with projections for 2045 estimated at 645 million adults globally. In the United States, there are 34 million adults with diabetes and an additional 88 million with prediabetes. The economic costs are staggering, primarily due to management of acute or chronic complications. As a chronic condition requiring daily self-care, the psychosocial burden of diabetes is significant. Therefore, diabetes self-management education is recommended as a standard of care for all people with diabetes. The Association of Diabetes Care and Education Specialists (ADCES) has created a framework of education incorporating seven self-care behaviors, each with several knowledge, skill, and barrier resolution outcome measures. However, research has suggested that diabetes self-management and support services are not utilized sufficiently. YouTube™ with a reach of over 2 billion users is a potential medium to reach more people with diabetes. At the present time, there is a paucity of research describing the source and content of the most widely viewed videos on diabetes selfcare. This study aimed to help fill that gap.

Specific aims of the study included: (a) describe characteristics of widely viewed YouTube™ videos on Diabetes Self-Care concerning length, date posted, source, speaker(s), format, and number of views; (b) describe the content of the most widely viewed YouTube™ videos on diabetes self-management education and support, categorized by the ADCES7 Self-Care™ behaviors; and (c) examine the source of videos in relation to number of views.

The researcher used a YouTube™ Application Programming Interface to retrieve video URLs along with meta data such as source, duration, date posted, and view counts. Data were sorted by URL and view count, duplicates removed, and screened for inclusion and exclusion criteria. The top 100 videos by view count were used as the sample in the study. A codebook developed for this study categorized the upload source, speaker, format, and seven content categories. Descriptive analyses were conducted to understand the most viewed sources and the content categories likely and not likely to be mentioned.

Collectively, these 100 videos were viewed 146,405,133 times, with an average duration of 12.2 minutes. Most of the videos (N = 77) were uploaded between 2017 and 2021. Results indicated that the two most popular sources for videos were Professionals and Corporations together uploading 72 videos and garnering 77% of cumulative views. In contrast, government agencies uploaded 1 video (<1% of cumulative views). Professionals was the most common protagonist (N = 42) when a speaker could be identified. Talk by professional received 34.09% of cumulative views, almost as much as Animation with voice (35.95%). The content areas most mentioned were Background on Diabetes, focusing on factors affecting blood sugar and ADCES7 Self-Care BehaviorsTM, especially Healthy Eating. Reversal of Diabetes was broached in 18 videos with 23.13% of cumulative views. Prevention Strategies for Communities was not mentioned at all, and Prevention Strategies for Individuals garnered less than 4% of cumulative views.

YouTube™ is a popular source of online information for people with diabetes. As such, it presents an excellent avenue to raise awareness of prediabetes and dissemination of diabetes self-management education. Significant opportunity exists for government and advocacy agencies to increase their presence on YouTube™ in terms of viewership, while presenting meaningful and credible information. Recommendations for population and public health initiatives as well as future research and practice were presented to utilize the power of YouTube™ as a medium to expand the reach of diabetes self-management education and support.

Geographic Areas


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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 15, 2022