Content analysis

JMIR Infodemiology | Misinformation about COVID-19 and vitamin D on YouTube: content analysis

Newswise – Recently Released JMIR Publications “COVID-19 and vitamin D misinformation on YouTube: content analysis” in JMIR Infodemiology, which reported that although social media platforms, such as YouTube, can be an inexpensive and effective method of sharing accurate health information, inaccurate and misleading information shared on YouTube can be dangerous for people. viewers.

The confusing nature of data and claims surrounding the benefits of vitamin D, particularly in preventing or curing COVID-19, influences both viewers and the general public “immune boost” commercial interest. The purpose of this study was to determine how information about vitamin D and COVID-19 was presented on YouTube in 2020. YouTube video results for the search terms “covid,” “coronavirus,” and “Vitamin D” were collected and analyzed for content themes and found to be useful or misleading based on the accuracy or inaccuracy of the content.

Qualitative content analysis and simple statistical analysis were used to determine the prevalence and frequency of content of concern, such as confusing correlation with causation regarding vitamin D benefits.

A total of 77 videos totaling 10,225,763 combined views were included in the analysis, more than three-quarters of which contained misleading content about COVID-19 and vitamin D. Additionally, 45 of the 77 videos confused the relationship between vitamin D and COVID. -19, with 46 out of 54 videos indicating that vitamin D has preventive or curative abilities.

The spread of misinformation is particularly alarming when spread by medical professionals, and existing data suggesting that vitamin D has immune-boosting abilities may add to viewers’ confusion or distrust of health information.

Dr. Cheryl E. Peters said: “The SARS-CoV-2 virus outbreak is a serious global threat, accompanied by an ‘infodemic’ of misinformation and health misinformation.”

While social media can be a valuable tool for sharing health messages for free, where they are widely available around the world, the glut of both accurate and inaccurate health information made available to the general public through mainstream and social media can lead to risky health behaviors and, in some cases, even death.

For example, recent work by Schereet al showed that people sensitive to misinformation on a topic are more likely to be influenced by a variety of misinformation, and those with less health education and knowledge, less trust in the healthcare system, and those who are more positive towards alternative medicine are also more likely to believe misinformation.

Research has shown that people go online to investigate and diagnose symptoms, to research treatments and alternative treatments, to seek information provided by medical professionals, to research personal and public health issues and topics , to engage with others with similar health issues. conditions or concerns, and research and categorize health care providers.

Evidence suggests that people use social media to access health information because it can supplement information provided by their health care providers and provide social support.

Inaccurate or inappropriate messaging about vitamin D and COVID-19 can be problematic for a host of reasons, including prompting people to take supplements to feel safe from a highly infectious disease that requires protective behaviors. vigilant public health and vaccination.

The Peters research team concluded in their JMIR Publications research findings that the results of their study suggest that confusing messages about vitamin D as having preventive or curative abilities against/for COVID-19 are prevalent on the networks. social and dominate the online narrative.

The concerns surrounding the type of individuals spreading this type of health misinformation are unique in these unprecedented times of a global pandemic, where the public may be anxiously seeking advice on how to stay healthy.

Easily accessible online platforms have the potential to reduce the spread of SARS-CoV-2; however, if misinformation is shared publicly, it may lead to increased viral spread or increased presence of other health conditions, either immediately or in the future.

This study is an important contribution to public health, as it demonstrated that healthcare professionals are a significant source of misleading information about the relationship between vitamin D and COVID-19 infection and severity.

Practical next steps to address this challenge include sharing counter-disinformation efforts as well as pre-bunking or debunking methods to limit risk.”immune booster“social media behaviors to deter preventable negative health consequences of unnecessary supplementation.


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Key words – COVID-19, vitamin D, misinformation, YouTube, content analysis, social media, video, infodemic, risk, prevention, health information, immunity, immune system, supplements, natural medicine

JMIR Publications is a leading, born-digital, open-access publisher of more than 30 scholarly journals and other innovative science communication products that focus on the intersection of health and technology. Its flagship newspaper, the Journal of Internet Medical Researchis the world’s leading digital health journal in terms of content and visibility, and it is the largest journal in the field of medical informatics.

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