Looking for Good Info on Vasectomy? Skip 'the Snip' on TikTok

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Key Takeaways

  • Top sites on TikTok focused on vasectomy have gotten over 353 million views, but the info on the sites is of poor quality

  • Only a small fraction of these sites were written by a health professional

  • Many downplay the effectiveness of the male contraceptive procedure, researchers said

FRIDAY, June 21, 2024 (HealthDay News) -- Men looking to limit their odds for fatherhood probably have questions about vasectomy.

They should steer clear of TikTok for answers, however.

A new study examining the quality of the top 100 most liked videos on TikTok found that, in terms of medical accuracy, the clips scored a dismal 0.19 on a scale ranging from 0 to 5.

“In addition to the poor quality of the information, it was concerning to see that there were gaps in information in places where a medical professional would have provided relevant context,” said study senior author Dr. Jonas Swartz. He's an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Duke University School of Medicine in Durham, N.C.

“For example, many videos mention that vasectomy can fail but don’t note that the failure rate is really, really low, making it the most effective form of contraception,” Swartz said in a Duke news release.

According to the researchers, about 1 in 5 Americans, especially the young, say they often head to TikTok for information on health.

In fact, the 100 most-liked videos on the social media platform with the hashtag #vasectomy gathered a total of 353 million views, Swartz' team found. However:

  • only 12% offered scientific or healthcare information

  • only 6% were posted by healthcare professionals

  • while they rated high in "understandibility" (83%), they rated low in terms of being useful/practical ("actionability"), at just 1.3%

  • 30% did not mention the man's role in contraception, while 11% mentioned abortion.

“This deficit of quality on a platform where young patients are going to seek out health information is a matter of public health concern,” said first study author Jessica Liu, a medical student at Duke.

The findings were published June 19 in the journal AUA News.

The researchers say the findings are in line with disappointing results on TikTok as a source of health info found in prior Duke analyses.

It all "represents an area where we as providers can step in and give access to evidence-based information, so our patients may have something credible to draw upon when making care decisions," Liu said.

More information

Find out more about vasectomy at the Mayo Clinic.

SOURCE: Duke University, news release, June 19, 2024

What This Means For You

Thinking about a vasectomy? Get info, advice from a doctor, not TikTok, researchers say.

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