The Role of YouTube in Plastic Surgery Education: Current Practices and Future Directions
Stav Brown MD1, Tal Brown1, Rod J. Rohrich MD3
1Sackler School of Medicine, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel 3Dallas Plastic Surgery Institute, Dallas, TX
Background: Patients are increasingly turning to a myriad of digital platforms to guide their decision-making regarding plastic and reconstructive surgery procedures. Despite their widespread use, YouTube videos play an undefined role in plastic surgery decision-making and their efficacy and accuracy remain challenging to assess. The growing number of plastic surgery-related videos shared on YouTube and its increasing popularity as a major source of medical information highlights the need for proper content and quality assessment. The authors sought to summarize the current knowledge of the role of YouTube in patient education in plastic surgery and the quality and reliability of information pertaining to plastic surgery procedures on YouTube.
Methods: A systematic review was conducted for publications examining the use of YouTube in plastic surgery. Studies were abstracted for procedure type, professional and colloquial search terms, authorship source, primary objective, view count, engagement metrics, publication date, video length, and video quality and reliability.
Results: Fourteen studies were deemed eligible for inclusion, comprising a total of 1676 videos featuring a variety of plastic surgery procedures. Studies included 1322 videos featuring surgical (1165) and non-surgical (157) aesthetic procedures, 107 gender affirmation surgery videos, 137 breast reconstruction videos, 60 orthognathic surgery videos, and 50 craniofacial surgery videos. Authorship sources included physicians, patients, and other sources. Both professional and colloquial search terms were used. Video quality and reliability measures included the DISCERN, EQIP, and GQS scores in addition to novel procedure-specific content analysis tools.
Conclusions: YouTube has become an established platform for the consumption of plastic surgery-related knowledge and information, however, its value in delivering informative, high?quality content has not yet been optimized. To our knowledge, this is the first study to summarize the current knowledge regarding the role of YouTube in patient education across the wide range of plastic and reconstructive surgery. The results highlight the importance of YouTube in patient education, despite the lack of objective, standardized tools to assess content accuracy, quality, and reliability. Plastic surgeons should recognize the increasing role of YouTube in patient education and strive to provide informative, unbiased, educational content. Content reach and visibility could be maximized by incorporation of patient experiences in videos, using colloquial search terms alongside professional terms, and providing materials in various levels and languages. The authors emphasize the need for standardized criteria and validated outcome measures to ensure that plastic surgery-related content accessible on YouTube is accurate, reliable, and of the highest quality possible.
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