YouTube CPR videos a reflection of health care social media

There are plenty of instructional videos on YouTube — in fact, I use them not infrequently to show patients educational videos.

But who uploads them, and are they medically reputable?

Like most social media sites, YouTube’s quality of information is variable.  And no where is that more apparent than in CPR videos. There are videos that use sex to teach CPR (a facetious take), or rap (a legitimate educational video from the American Heart Association), but on the whole, how accurate are they?

Well, there’s a study to answer that question.

From the journal Resuscitation (via Reuters):

Researchers found that of the 52 videos teaching CPR they discovered on YouTube, half were uploaded by individuals with no apparent health credentials.

Of the rest, most were posted either by a private group (not a government agency or medical group with official CPR guidelines) or by people who claimed they were a certified CPR instructor, a doctor or a paramedic …

… many [videos] painted an incorrect or incomplete picture, according to Murugiah, an assistant professor at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee.

Close to two-thirds, for example, either incorrectly described the rate of CPR chest compressions or did not cover that detail at all. And 57 percent fell short on showing viewers how deep the chest compressions should be.

Also, the CPR guidelines recently were revised, now advocating bystander chest compressions without mouth-to-mouth breathing, and not all the YouTube CPR videos reflect that change.

It’s all the more reason to be wary of what you consume on social media.  There’s good information out there, but always check to ensure that the source is reputable.  Physicians and other health professionals have a role to play here — we need to get involved to help guide patients to better, more accurate, sources of medical information.

 is an internal medicine physician and on the Board of Contributors at USA Today.  He is founder and editor of, also on FacebookTwitterGoogle+, and LinkedIn.

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