Patient education is crucial in management of food allergies. Incorrect or incomplete information can lead to unnecessary and avoidable complications. Patients use the Internet, specifically YouTube for instantaneous learning. Quality of YouTube videos on food allergy was evaluated for patient education.
YouTube.com was queried for the search phrase “Food allergy” and for each of top 8 allergens. Videos were assessed for duration, views, likes, dislikes, uploader, content. Content was categorized as useful, misleading, or patient views. Useful videos were rated for reliability and content, each on a 5-point scale based on DISCERN criteria for assessing the quality of health information.
Search phrase ‘food allergy” returned 50,000 videos sorted by default filter of “relevance”. On average, videos were 9 minutes and 9 seconds long, with 99,690 views, 1,188 likes and 26.5 dislikes. Only 45% of videos were rated useful with average reliability score of 3.4/5, 3/5 for content.
Including all food allergens, 54% of videos were rated as useful, 22% were patient views, 16% were irrelevant and 8% misleading. Only 9% of videos were uploaded by healthcare organizations and those videos had the highest reliability score. Most viewed videos were for fish and wheat allergy. Peanut allergy videos were the most reliable (score 3.4/5) followed by shellfish allergy (2.75/5). Least reliable videos were for fish allergy (score 2) followed by soy allergy (2.3/5).
There is a quality gap in patient education videos on food allergy. It needs to be addressed by healthcare professionals to achieve quality education and avoid misinformation and potential complications.