Medical Educational Videos on YouTube Are Better Quality Than 4 Years Ago, Study Finds

The study, presented at ACR Convergence 2021, evaluated how methotrexate self-injection education videos on YouTube have evolved over time.

Patients are increasingly depending on the internet for medical advice and guidance. In a presentation at ACR Convergence 2021,1 the American College of Rheumatology’s annual meeting, researchers from the University of Alberta Health asserted that health care professionals should be cognizant of the quality of information that is being offered to their patients. The presentation focused on methotrexate self-injection education videos on YouTube and the quality of the information being discussed.

The study added to research that was conducted in 2016 to evaluate how YouTube videos on methotrexate injection have evolved, as well as their current quality.

Methotrexate is the gold standard treatment for rheumatoid arthritis and can be administered orally or via injections, the latter of which can be self-administered. As YouTube is the largest online resource for videos, investigators centered their evaluation on the website to gauge the value of online information about methotrexate injection.

Two reviewers searched the term “methotrexate injection” on YouTube and analyzed the first 75 search results from a total of 2470. Videos were classified as either useful, misleading, or a personal patient view, and were assigned to 1 of 6 categories based on their source. Using established scoring tools, the resources were scored on reliability, comprehensiveness, and global quality (GQS).

Of the 75 videos analyzed, 16% were classified as useful, while 63% were classified as misleading. This represents a substantial increase from the previous study—published in 2016—which found 28% of videos to be misleading. However, many of the more recent videos discussed methotrexate in general rather than self-injection, the authors clarified.

Investigators found an overall significant increase in the reliability and GQS scores of videos compared with the 2016 study. Another encouraging result was the popularity of useful vs misleading content. Useful videos showed more views per day compared with misleading or personal patient view videos.

The sources of recent videos most often included universities, professional organizations, non-profit physicians, and/or physician groups (42.7%). Back in 2016, the most common source was a patient or individual, the authors noted.

And while the analysis showed a high number of misleading videos, 26% of those less-reputable resources still offered useful information on related topics, including side effects, dosing, and monitoring methotrexate in managing rheumatic disease.

“While the majority of the videos…were deemed misleading for teaching subcutaneous methotrexate injection, the useful videos were of good quality and had the highest ratings for comprehensiveness,” the authors concluded, adding that the reliability and quality of all videos has increased since 2016.


  1. Semaka A, Wilson H, Katz S. A qualitative analysis of methotrexate self-injection education videos on YouTube: An Update. Presented at: ACR Convergence 2021; November 3-9, 2021. Abstract. 0147.