Interactive Journal of Medical Research, vol. 6, no. 2, pp. 1 - 19
Interactive Journal of Medical Research
Background: Approximately 5.5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) in 2017. YouTube is a popular platform for disseminating health information; however, little is known about messages specifically regarding AD that are being communicated through YouTube. Objective: This study aims to examine video characteristics, content, speaker characteristics, and mobilizing information (cues to action) of YouTube videos focused on AD. Methods: Videos uploaded to YouTube from 2013 to 2015 were searched with the term “Alzheimer’s disease” on April 30th, 2016. Two coders viewed the videos and coded video characteristics (the date when a video was posted, Uniform Resource Locator, video length, audience engagement, format, author), content, speaker characteristics (sex, race, age), and mobilizing information. Descriptive statistics were used to examine video characteristics, content, audience engagement (number of views), speaker appearances in the video, and mobilizing information. Associations between variables were examined using Chi-square and Fisher’s exact tests. Results: Among the 271 videos retrieved, 25.5% (69/271) were posted by nonprofit organizations or universities. Informal presentations comprised 25.8% (70/271) of all videos. Although AD symptoms (83/271, 30.6%), causes of AD (80/271, 29.5%), and treatment (76/271, 28.0%) were commonly addressed, quality of life of people with AD (34/271, 12.5%) had more views than those more commonly-covered content areas. Most videos featured white speakers (168/187, 89.8%) who were adults aged 20 years to their early 60s (164/187, 87.7%). Only 36.9% (100/271) of videos included mobilizing information. Videos about AD symptoms were significantly less likely to include mobilizing information compared to videos without AD symptoms (23/83, 27.7% vs 77/188, 41.0% respectively; P=.03). Conclusions: This study contributes new knowledge regarding AD messages delivered through YouTube. Findings of the current study highlight a potential gap between available information and viewers’ interests. YouTube videos on AD could be beneficial if the messages delivered meet users’ needs and provide mobilizing information for further resources. Study findings will be useful to government agencies, researchers, nonprofit organizations that promote information about AD, and those responsible for social media to provide useful and accurate health information for the public.