Health Pros Upset At YouTube ‘Misinformation’

    December 7, 2007
    WebProNews Staff

If you’re getting your health information solely from YouTube, then it may be time to let some of the harsher Darwinian aspects of life take their course. Nonetheless, Canadian health researchers are aghast at the "misinformation" spreading via the user-generated video site.

According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, over half of 153 YouTube videos examined contained "negative or ambiguous" messages regarding common childhood, HPV, flu, or other disease vaccinations.

“YouTube is increasingly a resource people consult for health information, including vaccination,” said Dr. Jennifer Keelan, an assistant professor at the University of Toronto’s Department of Public Health Sciences.

“Our study shows that a significant amount of immunization content on YouTube contradicts the best scientific evidence at large. From a public health perspective, this is very concerning.”

A search for "immunization" and "vaccination" on YouTube revealed several videos on the first results page, many of which show footage of crying babies as they are vaccinated, or are labeled "anti-vaccination," or show bad reactions to certain types of vaccinations.

"Health care professionals need to be aware that individuals critical of immunization are using YouTube to communicate their viewpoints and that patients may be obtaining information from these videos" said Dr. Kumanan Wilson, senior author and an associate professor with U of T’s Department of Medicine. "YouTube users also need to be aware of this, so they can filter information from the site accordingly."

Wilson also suggested that public health officials should learn to use YouTube as a portal for spreading their own views on immunization.