YouTube Misses the Mark for Videos on Prostate Cancer, Mental Health


When it came to content on the mental health effects of prostate cancer, a review of YouTube videos found the results to be lacking.

YouTube is a popular video service developed by Google | Image credit: © Proxima Studio - ©

Videos on mental health and prostate cancer were not particularly engaging, recent reserach found.

Patients with prostate cancer who are looking for content about the mental health impacts of the disease may not have much luck searching on YouTube, according to a recent study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.

The researchers searched YouTube, an online video platform, for keywords such as “prostate cancer,” “prostate tumor,” and with mental health keywords, such as “depression,” “anxiety” and “distress.” Videos had to be in English and deal with the topic of mental health and prostate cancer. Overall, the research team — which included a psychiatrist, psychologists and urologists — ended up screening and rating 67 different videos.

Findings showed that 35 videos (52.2%) were produced by medical doctors; 10 (14.9%) by hospitals; 13 (19.4%) by private users; and nine (13.4%) by others. Sixteen videos (23.9%) were published before 2014; 17 (25.4%) between 2015-2017; 13 (19.4%) between 2018-2019; and 21 (31.3%) between 2020-2022.

About one-fifth (20.9%; 14 videos) were targeted toward health care works, while 79.1% (53 videos) were targeted toward patients. The following topics were covered in the videos:

  • Patient experience (17 videos; 25.4%)
  • Patient experience and prostate cancer treatment (17 videos; 25.4%)
  • Patient experience and prostate cancer diagnosis (22 videos; 32.8%)
  • Tools for managing prostate cancer and the patient experience (11 videos; 16.4%)

“It was found that all the videos focusing on providing general information about (prostate cancer) omitted mental health aspects,” the researchers wrote. “This observation may suggest that the videos mentioning mental health are not among the most engaging content concerning (prostate cancer).”

The researchers concluded that the average understandability score was 72.3%, with the average actionability score of 58.6%. Videos were deemed to be understandable or actionable in each category with a ranking of 70% or higher. That said, the researchers noted, “Of the 67 eligible videos, most are aimed at (prostate cancer) patients, but the quality of their educational information is low …”

Of note, according to the study authors, the videos dealing with patient experience tended to have lower understandability and actionability ratings than those that focused on more scientific content.

According to the Global Quality Score, which is a tool used to assess the quality, feasibility and clinical utility of videos, the videos included in the study, on average, fell into the medium- to poor-quality range.

“The sharing of cancer experiences can be ambiguous due to the subjective nature of how events are process,” the researchers wrote. “Indeed, patients who have already undergone surgery and/or pharmacological treatments share their emotional experiences, which may foster a sense of hope and compassion for other patients with early-stage prostate cancer, although this may not be sufficient to enhance awareness of the disease’s mental health risks, symptoms and feasible treatments.”

Interestingly, the researchers also observed that after the COVID-19 pandemic, the video content tended to be unvaried, “even though the global prevention measures adopted to contain the infection had fostered telemedical practices to support, educate and address patients’ needs.”

Ultimately, the researchers concluded that collaborative work is needed to create and define content that could be beneficial for patients with prostate cancer who are experiencing mental health issues.

“Thus, these results suggest that a multidisciplinary agreement is needed to define high-quality standards and improve communication in order to provide essential information for mental health care awareness after a (prostate cancer) diagnosis and, therefore, support a key factor of adherence to medical treatments and the maintenance of a good quality of life.”

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