Medical Education Videos for the World: An Analysis of Viewing Patterns for a YouTube Channel

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Abstract

Purpose

Medical education videos can enhance learning and easily integrate into common instructional methods. YouTube permits worldwide access to high-quality medical education videos; however, no studies have described the reach of medical education videos on YouTube or what topics are preferred.

Method

One year of YouTube analytics data (February 1, 2016, to January 31, 2017) was collected for a medical-education-focused channel called Osmosis. Created December 20, 2015, the channel had 189 disease-focused videos by January 2017. Viewer and subscriber data were analyzed according to the World Bank’s four income and seven region classifications. Topic viewing was analyzed according to income level.

Results

The channel had accumulated 105,117 subscribers and 5,226,405 views for 20,153,093 minutes (38.3 years) from viewers located in 213/218 (97.7%) World Bank economies. While the number of videos increased 4.8-fold from February 2016 to January 2017, monthly views increased 50-fold and subscribers increased 117-fold. Low- or middle-income countries generated 2.2 million (42%) views and 52,942 (50%) subscribers, with similar view proportions across income level during the 12 months. A plurality of views (1.5 million; 29%) came from North America; Sub-Saharan Africa had the lowest number (150,065; 2.9%). Topic viewing generally corresponded to population health statistics.

Conclusions

Medical education content on YouTube can immediately and consistently reach a global viewership with relevant content. Educators may consider posting videos to YouTube to reach a broad audience. Future work should seek to optimize assessment of learning and investigate how videos may affect patients.

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