Study Reveals TikTok's Impact on Psoriasis Treatment Understanding

January 25, 2024

The authors looked at how the social media platform is influencing public perception and understanding of psoriasis treatments.

A new study published in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology offers a glimpse into the role of social media in dermatology.

According to the study researchers, TikTok’s reign as the fastest-growing social media platform in the world has expanded beyond entertainment, becoming a significant source of medical information. Using another recent study that found psoriasis among the most viewed dermatological diseases on the app, they wanted to explore any connections between viewer engagement, user experience, and content quality.

The team identified the top 120 videos using specific search terms ("psoriasis" and "psoriasis treatment") and assessed them using two main criteria: viewer engagement (a combination of comments and likes per view) and content quality (rated by the validated DISCERN instrument). Among their main findings:

  • Viewer Engagement: The study found no significant difference in engagement between videos posted by physicians and those by non-physicians.
  • Content Quality and Viewer Experience: Videos by physicians were rated higher in terms of content quality and viewer experience, although they noted that there is room for improvement in terms of creating videos of higher quality by both physicians and non-physicians alike.

The researchers noted that the cross-sectional analysis confirmed what many doctors in the field have experienced first-hand: quality content and viewer engagement can be unrelated to popularity. The positive view, according to the authors, is that the data supports the idea that those who put in the work to create more engaging, high-quality content can reach a wider audience. In other words, content is always king.

The authors also underscored the critical importance of safe, effective, accurate presentation of information for anyone engaged in medical communication. For the researchers, the data suggests TikTok puts viewers in the untenable position of simultaneously seeking and evaluating specialized health information on a platform they also use for entertainment.

"TikTok can be a powerful to to promote health literacy and dispel misinformation," the authors wrote. "Dermatologists may consider focusing their efforts on creating comprehensive educational content and incorporating trending features to reach a wider audience."

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