YouTube videos as a source of medical information during the Ebola hemorrhagic fever epidemic

Sajan Jiv Singh Nagpal, Ahmadreza Karimianpour, Dhruvika Mukhija, Diwakar Mohan, Andrei Brateanu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


The content and quality of medical information available on video sharing websites such as YouTube is not known. We analyzed the source and quality of medical information about Ebola hemorrhagic fever (EHF) disseminated on YouTube and the video characteristics that influence viewer behavior. An inquiry for the search term ‘Ebola’ was made on YouTube. The first 100 results were arranged in decreasing order of “relevance” using the default YouTube algorithm. Videos 1–50 and 51–100 were allocated to a high relevance (HR), and a low relevance (LR) video group, respectively. Multivariable logistic regression models were used to assess the predictors of a video being included in the HR vs. LR groups. Fourteen videos were excluded because they were parodies, songs or stand-up comedies (n = 11), not in English (n = 2) or a remaining part of a previous video (n = 1). Two scales, the video information and quality and index and the medical information and content index (MICI) assessed the overall quality, and the medical content of the videos, respectively. There were no videos from hospitals or academic medical centers. Videos in the HR group had a higher median number of views (186,705 vs. 43,796, p < 0.001), more ‘likes’ (1119 vs. 224, p < 0.001), channel subscriptions (208 vs. 32, p < 0.001), and ‘shares’ (519 vs. 98, p < 0.001). Multivariable logistic regression showed that only the ‘clinical symptoms’ component of the MICI scale was associated with a higher likelihood of a video being included in the HR vs. LR group.(OR 1.86, 95 % CI 1.06–3.28, p = 0.03). YouTube videos presenting clinical symptoms of infectious diseases during epidemics are more likely to be included in the HR group and influence viewers behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number457
Pages (from-to)1-5
Number of pages5
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2015


  • Ebola
  • Ebola hemorrhagic fever
  • Epidemics
  • Multimedia
  • Patient education
  • Social media

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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