Social media and the intrauterine device: a YouTube content analysis

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Abstract

Background

YouTube’s online archive of video testimonials related to health information are more commonly viewed than those developed by clinicians and professional groups, suggesting the importance of the patient experience to viewers. We specifically sought to examine the accuracy of information on, and projected acceptability of, the intrauterine device (IUD) from these YouTube testimonials.

Methods

We searched YouTube for videos about individual uploaders’ IUD experiences, using the search terms ‘intrauterine device’, ‘IUD’, ‘Mirena’ and ‘Paragard’. Given interest in user testimonials, we excluded professional and instructional videos belonging to commercial or non-profit entities. Two reviewers independently analysed the videos using a structured guide, with attention to inaccurate information.

Results

Of 86 identified videos, four videos featured clinicians and were excluded; 62 met inclusion criteria. Interrater agreement on IUD portrayal was good (K=0.73). Young (mean age 25, range 19–38, years), white (75%), nulliparous (61%) women primarily uploaded content. Most described placement of the LNG-IUS (65%), were posted within 1 month of insertion (45%), and mentioned side effects (66%) – bleeding, pain, and partner sensation of the strings. About one-third of videos contained inaccurate information (34%) and were thought to project an overall negative experience (30%). Videos portraying IUDs negatively were associated with inaccurate information and/or mention of side effects.

Conclusion

While one-third of IUD user testimonials on YouTube contained inaccurate information, the majority of IUD experiences were perceived by our study viewers to be positive.

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