Plastic Surgery Research Council

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Can You Trust What You Watch? An Assessment of the Quality of Information About Aesthetic Surgery on YouTube
Megan Gray1, Amanda Gemmiti2, Ashar Ata1, Brandon Jun1, Phillip Johnson1, Joseph Ricci1, Ashit Patel1.
1Albany Medical Center, Albany, NY, USA, 2SUNY Upstate Medical, Syracuse, NY, USA.

PURPOSE: The internet has become the primary source for patients seeking information on aesthetic surgery. YouTube is a popular website for this purpose with billions of views daily. Videos can be posted without regulation or standardization, which has the potential to lead to misinformation. Currently, there are no objective assessments of the quality of information on YouTube about aesthetic surgery, which the authors aim to address with this study.
METHODS: The 12 most common aesthetic surgical procedures were identified from the 2015 ASPS procedural statistics and 21 lay person and technical procedure terms were used as individual search terms in YouTube. Based on upward trends, buttock lift was also included. The top 25 most relevant results for each search term between May 25 and June 8, 2016 were identified and scored by 3 independent reviewers using a modified version of Ensuring Quality Information for Patients (EQIP) criteria based of video structure, content and author identification. Average EQIP score, view count, and video duration were compared among authorship groups (physician, patient or other entity).
RESULTS: A total of 523 videos were graded using the modified EQIP criteria after duplicates were excluded. The mean modified EQIP score for all videos was 13.1 (SE = 0.18) out of a possible 26 total points. The videos found under the search "nose reshaping" had the lowest mean score of 10.24 (SE = 0.74), while "breast augmentation" had the highest score of 15.96 (SE = 0.65). Physician authorship accounted for 59% of included videos and were found to have a higher mean EQIP score and total video views than those posted by patients. Whether the search term used was the appropriate medical terminology for the procedure or a non-expert description, such as "otoplasty" versus "ear surgery," influenced how many of the top 50 videos were relevant to plastic surgery and the average EQIP score. Only 3 of the 21 total search terms had a mean modified EQIP score in the 75th percentile that met criteria for high quality videos.
CONCLUSION: The information available to patients from YouTube videos related to common aesthetic surgical procedures is of low quality. Patients should be aware that the information in existing videos has the potential to be inaccurate. The modified EQIP criteria presented offers a set of objective criteria to evaluate the quality of these videos. Plastic surgeons and organizations such as the ASPS should be encouraged to develop high quality videos to educate patients and make these videos accessible.


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