A recent study conducted by The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center has revealed that millions of women are relying on the social media platform TikTok for health advice regarding gynecologic cancers. However, the study found that the majority of information shared on TikTok is misleading or dramatically inaccurate.
Senior study author, Dr. Laura Chambers, emphasized the potential harm that misinformation on social media can have on patients’ health outcomes. She also highlighted the opportunity to address gaps in care that may go unnoticed during clinic appointments.
The study aimed to understand how patients were using social media, what information they were sharing, and how they were consuming that information. The researchers systematically analyzed the top five hashtags related to gynecologic cancers on TikTok, including ovarian, endometrial, cervical, and vulvar cancers, as well as gestational trophoblastic disease. They collected demographic information, message tone, thematic topics, and rated the quality of educational videos using an established health education information scale.
The findings revealed that the overall quality of information shared on TikTok was poor, with at least 73% of content being inaccurate and of poor educational quality. Additionally, the study highlighted racial disparities in gynecologic cancer-related content on the platform.
Dr. Chambers raised important questions about how to address these inaccuracies and improve communication with patients, particularly focusing on creating more diverse content to overcome racial and cultural disparities in cancer treatment. She also encouraged patients to seek out reputable in-person and online support communities sponsored by medical and patient advocacy organizations.
This study sheds light on the dangers of relying on social media platforms like TikTok for health advice. It emphasizes the importance of obtaining accurate information from credible sources and consulting with healthcare professionals for personalized guidance and support.
– Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center
– Morton, M., et al. (2023). “More than a song and dance”: Exploration of patient perspectives and educational quality of gynecologic cancer content on TikTok. Gynecologic Oncology.