Online Educational Videos Prove Useful for Patients Looking To Understand Their Cancer

January 21, 2020
Conor Killmurray

More people than ever are beginning their medical journeys online as digital videos on cancer education are proven to be a useful tool that institutions should provide.

In an evaluation of cancer knowledge from the use of online videos, researchers found these clips to be useful and innovative in educating those at risk of cancer, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Cancer Education.

“Online digital videos are a unique way to provide health education and offer alternative means to deliver information to reach the public,” researchers from the American Association for Cancer Education wrote. “Digital videos have the potential to promote and change behaviors among those at risk by reducing unhealthy behaviors and increasing knowledge and screening.”

According to the researchers, there has been an increase in demand for health education materials via digital videos on the internet that are easily accessible to the public, including patients and caregivers. As the number of people in the US using at least one social media platform has steadily increased to 69% of the US population, 62% of all internet users reported online media as a source for health information.

In 2013 alone, 35% of adults used the internet to self-diagnose a condition they believed either themselves or someone they knew had, with 41% of them confirming the initial diagnosis with their clinician. This showed researchers that a majority of people are seeking their health information online first, making the accuracy and effective delivery of this information important for professionals in the healthcare field.

“Digital videos are an inexpensive method used to deliver educational content that can reach an audience at a higher magnitude than conventional methods,” the researchers added. They pointed to other studies of internet-based interventions for psychological and behavioral cancer health outcomes that showed these videos as practical tools for informing patients and caregivers. “Viewers have increased autonomy in the way in which they learn,” the researchers explained. “They have the opportunity to revisit material and follow at a comfortable pace, with the option to pause, fast forward, or rewind scenes.”

For this study, researchers defined digital videos as multimedia visuals created and used to share information on online platforms and social media. They then pulled 4,996 digital videos from the MedLine, PsychINFO, and PubMed databases using the keyword terms “cancer education videos,” “cancer prevention videos,” and “cancer education digital videos”.

After reviewing the contents and quality of the video and accompanying article, the researchers split up the participants into two overall groups: one that would only watch the digital videos for their cancer education and a control group that would utilize multiple interventions.

The specific types of cancer used for each group included lung cancer, skin cancer, colon cancer, breast cancer, and cervical cancer.

The groups using the digital videos only for their education were able to recall more information than the groups that didn’t. Upon further assessment, with the use of a pre- and post-test, all groups saw a better retention of knowledge for each cancer type. For instance, the lung cancer group scored 25.5% in the pre-test but in the post-test scored a 74.8% overall.

Researchers also found that those in the cervical cancer group had an increase not just in their overall knowledge of the disease, but also in the management of the disease. This also included an increase in the likelihood that participants in the study would obtain screenings and understand self-checks, like skin-inspections.

“Results from the selected articles reported that digital videos should be incorporated in cancer treatment and that YouTube was the social media outlet preferred over Twitter and Facebook to disseminate information on cancer risks,” the researchers concluded. They also added that digital videos could help aid in reaching more diverse patient groups to help educate patients with limited access to this education.

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