YouTube as a source of patient information for varicose vein treatment options

Trevor M. Y. Kwok, Animesh A. Singla, Kevin Phang, Annie Y. S. Lau

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: The purpose of this study was to analyze the quality of content and potential sources of bias in videos available on YouTube pertaining to interventional treatment for varicose veins.

Methods: Searches were performed on YouTube to identify videos pertaining to interventional treatment for varicose veins. Videos that met eligibility criteria were analyzed and rated according to predetermined criteria by two independent assessors, with a third independent assessor to resolve any discrepancy. Each video was rated for its informational quality (good, fair, poor) and stance (for, neutral, against, unclear) toward the treatment option discussed.

Results: A total of 284 videos were extracted, of which 228 met eligibility criteria and were analyzed. The largest group of videos (47.3%) received a quality rating of fair, meaning that they discussed one or two aspects of a treatment option, such as procedural technique and indications. Among those videos rated poor (25.0%), nearly all videos (98.2%) failed to mention a specific treatment. Most videos (71.1%) were in favor of the treatment discussed without presenting balanced discussion of alternatives. Private companies represented the most frequent source of videos analyzed (73.2%). There was a statistically significant correlation between quality and video source (chi(2) = 9.308: df = 2; P = .010), with videos from private companies generally receiving poorer quality ratings than other videos. There was no association between quality and viewing frequency of videos (P = .379).

Conclusions: On the whole, the videos available on YouTube are neither sufficiently comprehensive nor adequately balanced to be recommended as patient education material regarding interventional treatment options for varicose veins.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)238-243
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Vascular Surgery: Venous and Lymphatic Disorders
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2017


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