Nov 4, 2022 – What good is health information on popular social media platforms like TikTok if it’s misleading?
Most popular videos about irritable bowel syndrome using the hashtag #IBS on TikTok are posted by influencers or the public, rather than medical professionals or health institutions. research I presented American College of Gastroenterology 2022 Annual Scientific Meeting In Charlotte, NC, while influencers’ posts were shared more frequently, content from medical professionals had more views.
“These findings are important for health care organizations and professionals to increase the sharing of health information and the distribution of evidence-based educational materials,” Faraz Jaffrey of the University of Texas Dell Medical School at Austin said at the meeting. We support partnerships.”
He points out that posts with the hashtag #IBS have already received 1.6 billion views, and many of them are aimed at helping people cope with IBS.
“With the onset of COVID-19, social media platforms like TikTok became an important outlet for patients to share their experience with IBS because they were not ready to see their doctor,” says Jaffrey. “While IBS is often an embarrassing topic for patients, TikTok has played an important role in normalizing IBS by providing an online support community where patients can go and share their story.”
Jaffrey and his team analyzed the validity and educational content of the first 100 videos appearing on TikTok under the hashtag #IBS that met the inclusion criteria for their study. They found that almost half of the videos – 42 in total – were posted by influencers, while medical professionals shared 10 videos and medical institutions posted another six. The rest of the videos were shared by common people.
Videos posted by influencers averaged 16,382 shares, while videos posted by medical professionals averaged 10,869 shares. But videos from medical professionals had more views (3,661,000) than videos posted by influencers (2,926,476).
Only 30% of the videos were educational, and less than half of them (47%) were factual. And 1 in 5 videos (21%) posted by influencers were not based on gold standard peer-reviewed research.
“These findings are not surprising because there is a lot of health misinformation on TikTok,” said Zachary Rubin, MD, a pediatric allergist and immunologist at Oak Brook Allergists in Illinois. “This is especially true when health topics are not well understood even in the medical community.”
Rubin says it’s important for people to be aware of online trends that may influence medical decision-making, so potential misinformation can be addressed. (Robin was not involved in the study, but is an active TikTok users (who frequently posts educational videos about vaccines, respiratory diseases, and allergies.)
“There are a lot of content creators who spread misinformation to get them to sign up for classes or go to their personal website to buy products, which aren’t necessarily helpful,” he explains.
He says people should look to the credentials of the TikTok creators they’re following for health-related information. Things to consider include whether the creator has a professional degree, what the creator’s personal website offers, and whether the creator is trying to sell a product or service.
“While TikTok can contain valuable information regarding IBS and its treatment, it’s important to be aware of misinformation and consult your physician when deciding to start a new diet or medication,” says Jaffrey. “Patients can use TikTok to find helpful ‘tips and tricks’ provided by licensed medical professionals that can improve lifestyle and provide symptom relief.”
The researchers found that almost all non-educational videos (97%) were posted by non-medical professionals. The majority of posts were classified as lifestyle (43%) or tips and tricks (40%), with just over a third (35%) classified as humor and 7% as marketing. was
“Users were most interested in posts that discussed lifestyle changes that can reduce IBS symptoms, such as massage, diet, positioning and clothing,” says Jaffrey. Jafri says. “This DIY approach to IBS has taken off on TikTok with posts about food, lifestyle, medicine, and product advertisements.”
Rubin says TikTok’s popularity as a platform means it’s important for health professionals to join and post accurate health information — especially skin care and weight loss. Like on popular topics.
“The majority of adults look for health information online, and many adults want to see their doctors on social media,” Rubin says. “It can be a good source of up-to-date information for people. For clinicians, it can provide an opportunity to connect with their patients and the media.”