SUFU 2022: Urinary Tract Infection on Social Media: Examining YouTube Content As a Source of Patient Educational Information

( The rising presence of social media has offered a wide array of publicly available medical information for women suffering from recurrent urinary tract infections (rUTIs). This study sought to investigate the quality of information for UTI on YouTube.

A YouTube search was performed using the keyword ‘urinary tract infection’ and the top 200 viewed videos were analyzed. The videos were analyzed by four reviewers for video metrics, user engagement, and content through DISCERN and Patient Education Materials Assessment Tool (PEMAT) scores. PEMAT is a systematic method to evaluate and compare the understandability and actionability of patient education materials. It is designed as a guide to help determine whether patients will be able to understand and act on information. Separate tools are available for use with print and audiovisual materials ( Exclusion criteria included videos that exceeded twenty minutes in duration, were non-English, duplicated, unrelated, or were presentations for medical professionals.

A total of 54 videos met inclusion criteria with a total of 12,772,587 views. The average video length was 5 (SD 3.6) minutes.

  • 52% (n=28) were produced by non-medical institutions
  • 42% (n=23) featured a physician with only 11% (n=6) featuring a urologist
Median DISCERN quality score was 3 (1-5) with 67% rated as moderate to poor quality (DISCERN ≤ 3). Videos featuring a physician had a higher DISCERN quality score than those that did not (4 vs 3, p=0.021). The median PEMAT understandability and actionability scores were 91 (28-100) and 67 (0-100) respectively. Sixty-nine percent (n=37) of videos promoted home remedies and supplements for the treatment and prevention of UTIs. Vaginal estrogen therapy was mentioned in 7% (n=4) of videos as a preventive treatment for UTIs. Thirty-three percent (n=18) of videos contained potentially misleading information with a total of 4,130,906 views.

Videos noting user engagement were also analyzed:

  • 76% (42) videos with comments requesting medical advice
  • 69% (38) videos with comments providing medical advice
  • 53% (29) videos with comments providing social support
  • 40% (22) videos with comments containing advertisement
The authors concluded that one-third of the most popular videos on YouTube discussing UTIs presented misleading information and less than a quarter of the videos featured a urologist. Over two-thirds promoted home remedies for the treatment and prevention of UTIs. A stronger physician and/or health care provider presence on YouTube and other social media platforms can help deliver accurate and accessible information to the public.

Presented by: Zhenyue Huang,1 Rosen Jeong,1 Edwin Lee,1 Heng Ruan,2 Tal Meir Cohen,1 Jason Kim1

  1. Stony Brook Medicine
  2. Stony Brook University 

Written by: Diane K. Newman, DNP, ANP-BC, FAAN, Adjunct Professor of Urology in Surgery, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania and Co-Director of the Penn Center for Continence and Pelvic Health at the 2022 Society of Urodynamics, Female Pelvic Medicine & Urogenital Reconstruction (SUFU) Winter Meeting, February 22 - 26, 2022