Experts identify misinformation in TikTok videos on overactive bladder treatments

Opinion
Video

"Probably the most surprising finding was actually that there were several videos created by health care professionals that contain misinformation," says Alexandra Tabakin, MD.

In this video, Alexandra Tabakin, MD, shares the background and notable findings from the Urogynecology paper, “Third-Line Overactive Bladder Therapies on TikTok: What Does the Public Learn.” Tabakin is a fellow in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery at the Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell, Great Neck, New York.

Transcription:

Please describe the background for this study.

Social media is a part of our daily lives. Over 90% of Americans use some form of it, and in 2024 TikTok is the fifth most popular social media outlet, and that's just behind Facebook, YouTube, Whatsapp, and Instagram. Importantly, 20% of Americans actually turn to social media before consulting a doctor on medical problems, and 1 study even showed that 1 in 5 Americans actually trust health influencers over their local community providers. When it comes to overactive bladder, there are a lot of studies out there that do demonstrate patients turn to online communities and resources for information and support. Overactive bladder is notoriously difficult to treat. Some patients move on to advanced or third-line therapies for overactive bladder, which include posterior tibial nerve stimulation, sacral neuromodulation, and intravesical onabotulinumtoxin injections or Botox. Prior to our study, we really didn't know much about the quality of the information on social media, particularly TikTok, related to these third-line therapies for overactive bladder. With all of that in mind, the purpose of our study was really to assess the quality of information and also the degree of misinformation online, particularly in TikTok videos as it relates to third-line therapies for overactive bladder.

What were some of the notable findings? Were any of them surprising to you and your coauthors?

We did find that 20% of the videos on third-line therapies for overactive bladder on TikTok were created by health care professionals, and that's mostly comprised of doctors and nurses. Although these videos were more frequently shared, their viewership didn't differ in other ways from videos created by non-health care professionals. Another interesting finding was that we found misinformation in 1 of 5 videos on third-line therapies for overactive bladder. Most of the misinformation related to things like indication for therapy, how certain therapies work, patient limitations and expectations after using a therapy, and also adverse effects. For example, some of these videos claimed that third-line therapies for overactive bladder could help patients with stress incontinence. Some of these videos claimed that Botox shouldn't be used in the bladder, and others said that when you get a sacral neuromodulator device implanted that it has to be removed before all other surgery, so definitely quite a bit of misinformation out there. But above all, probably the most surprising finding was actually that there were several videos created by health care professionals that contain misinformation.

This transcription was edited for clarity.

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