According to the results of two separate social media-related studies unveiled today at the American College of Gastroenterology’s (ACG) 76th Annual Scientific meeting in Washington, DC, social networking sites like Facebook and YouTube may lack patient-centered information and can also be sources of misleading information that could potentially do more harm than good (see the ACG press release here).
What I found interesting was the comment made by researcher Saurabh Mukewar, MD, the author of the second study (“YouTube: A Friend or Foe When You Are Taking Care of IBD Patients”):
“Clinicians and their patients need to be aware of misleading information posted by patients or particularly by pharmaceutical companies who often post videos to make it seem like they are coming from a patient when in actuality it is a company advertisement,” said Dr. Mukewar. “These sources are not transparent.”
I have often siad that “patient” promotional videos made by pharmaceutical companies can be mistaken for authentic patient stories. See, for example, “Method Acting for Real Patients Who Play Themselves on Pharma YouTube Channels“.
Both Dr. Wolfsen and Dr. Mukewar agree that Internet and social media can benefit patients and enhance their care. But Dr. Mukewar said his findings are concerning to him since IBD patients may get misleading information via YouTube that could be harmful to their health.
Pharmacutical companies say that they must be allowed more freedom to put “credible information” on YouTube, Facebook, and other social media sites to counteract the misleading and potentially harmful information that is already out there! But here we have physicians who say that pharma companies share the responsibility for posting misleading information on social media sites.
Who are we to believe?