The landscape of information sharing has changed dramatically over the last several decades. Whereas individuals once got their information via textbooks, newspapers, encyclopedias, and word of mouth, almost all information is now obtained online.
Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok are playing an increasingly major role in information sharing. People of all ages (though particularly young people) seek all kinds of information on these platforms, even medical information.
Although these social media platforms provide a unique opportunity to reach people where they’re at and deliver important public health information, unfortunately, not all of the information shared on social media is accurate. This is why it is important to view information on social media through a critical lens and follow up with a medical expert if you have questions regarding the quality of the information you have gleaned online.
A recent study evaluated the quality and accuracy of videos with information pertaining to premature ejaculation (PE) on TikTok, a popular video-based social media platform. To do this, researchers searched for “premature ejaculation” on the TikTok mobile app without logging into a personal account.
The search yielded 40 videos that contained content relevant to PE, included audio or subtitles, and were in English. These 40 videos were included in the analysis.
Three qualified reviewers with formal training in urology evaluated the reliability of the information in the videos using two validated scoring tools: DISCERN and the Patient Education Materials Assessment Tool (PEMAT). DISCERN is a tool designed to help users of consumer health information judge the quality of that information, and PEMAT is a tool designed to assess the understandability and actionability of patient education materials.
Ultimately, the reviewers determined that just 8 of the 40 videos contained reliable information on PE, while the remaining 32 videos contained unreliable information on PE.
Reliable information from the videos included the American Urological Association’s definition of PE, indications for treatment, and/or events or characteristics that have the potential to lead to PE. On the other hand, unreliable information included unsupported claims about treating PE with herbal remedies, breathing techniques, etc. If a video included both reliable and unreliable information, it was considered unreliable.
The average number of “likes” per video was much higher for the reliable videos than the unreliable videos (1,238 vs 126). Additionally, the accounts with the reliable videos had a higher average number of followers than the accounts with the unreliable videos (55,050 vs 12,042).
Importantly, 62.5% of the reliable videos were posted by individual physicians or physician groups, compared to just 6.3% of the unreliable videos. Furthermore, 75% of the unreliable videos were posted by self-identified patients or individual users, compared to 12.5% of the reliable videos.
These findings show that most of the information about PE on TikTok is unreliable and not posted by experts in the field such as physicians. Therefore, it is very important to verify information found on TikTok with a reputable source and speak directly to your health care provider about any concerns you have related to your sexual functioning.
For more information on this topic, please read these publications from the ISSM Journals: The Journal of Sexual Medicine, Sexual Medicine Reviews, and Sexual Medicine Open Access:
YouTube and Men’s Health: A Review of the Current Literature
Sexual Medicine in the Social Media
Bernstein, A., Zhu, M., Loloi, J., Babar, M., Winokur, N., Wysocki, M., & Cohen, S. (2023). TikTok as a source of information regarding premature ejaculation: a qualitative assessment. Sexual Medicine, 11(2), qfac020. https://doi.org/10.1093/sexmed/qfac020