Introduction: Urolithiasis negatively impacts the lives of millions each year with a subset of sufferers requiring surgical removal. Recent studies have shown that a large percentage of patients rely on social media to address their health inquiries. Therefore, we aimed to assess the quality of kidney stone surgery content on various social media platforms. We hypothesized that social media would lack health information pertinent for adequate informed decision making.
Methods: BuzzSumo, was used to identify the most popular stone surgery content on social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Reddit, and YouTube) between March 2016-February 2021. Content performance was based on “engagements”, characterized as cumulative shares, likes, and comments an article or video received. Inclusion criteria: >100 engagements, unexpired links, English language, related to kidney stone surgery.
The DISCERN instrument was then utilized independently by three individual raters to evaluate the quality of health information present in identified web articles and online videos. Score ratings of 1 describe “serious or extensive shortcomings” with scores of 5 describing “health information with minimal shortcomings". Quantitative data were examined by Analysis of Variance (ANOVA).
Results: Keywords were identified as ‘Ureteroscopy’ (URS), ‘Percutaneous Nephrolithotomy’(PCNL) and ‘Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy’ (ESWL) with nine articles and fifteen videos meeting inclusion criteria. BuzzSumo revealed URS, PCNL, and ESWL had similar number of engagements on various social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, and Pinterest) in the past five years. However, PCNL received approximately 100,000 more YouTube views and 4,000 more engagements than URS or ESWL. Qualitative analysis demonstrated that YouTube videos had a lower mean DISCERN score (2.27) when compared to web articles (2.82) both being classified as low-quality. URS health information was considered of moderate quality in text (3.19) and video formats (3.01), whereas PCNL and ESWL were of low-quality in both formats.
Conclusions: Stone surgery content most engaged with on social media have extensive shortcomings. The low quality could be contributing to patient misinformation and highlights the need for involvement of urologists in the creation of engaging high-quality content in our social media-driven society.