Online health videos are a great way to learn more about medical conditions, treatments, and research. Watching a health video may not give the same depth of information as an article or essay, but a video is almost always faster. For those with a busy life who like to multitask, it’s easy to watch online health videos while getting ready for work or cooking a meal.

However, as with any other sources of information on the internet, videos aren’t regulated. A search for videos, no matter the topic, will turn up a lot of questionable results, so it’s up to viewers to figure out if the information in a health video is credible. Perhaps the easiest way to find good online health videos is to stick with the ones produced by trusted organizations or websites.

For example, Pain Doctor has an extensive video library explaining different pain conditions and potential treatments.

Pain Doctor’s health videos cover many of the topics discussed in the condition and treatment pages. The videos are quite short, featuring just the most important information about each topic. Watching a few health videos is quick way to get familiarized with some of the conditions and treatments discussed elsewhere on the Pain Doctor website. If someone watches a health video, such as the one about Chronic Facial Pain, and wants more information, there’s a link in the video description that leads to Pain Doctor’s page on the condition.

This can be particularly helpful before going to see a physician, because a health video or two can provide a little background information to inspire better conversations. Similarly, if a physician has just suggested a few potential treatments, these health videos can give a basic rundown of treatments.

For new takes on information or for a look at new research, is hard to beat.

While TED videos may be best known as sources of inspiration or encouragement, the organization also has well over a hundred online health videos. The easiest way to find a health video on a specific subject is to use the Search tool, which is located at the top right of the page. Alternatively, viewers can hover the mouse over the “Watch” tab and click “Topics” to browse the Topics page. The “Playlists” page, which is also found under the “Watch” tab, can allow viewers to choose a theme and watch several videos in a row.

TED videos often deal with very recent research and discussions. Another big bonus of TED’s health videos is the captioning capability. Viewers can set captions in one of more than 20 languages. Some videos also have transcripts, which can also be translated into other languages, so that the information can be revisited.

The online health videos available from WebMD are organized by topic, sharply focused, and rich in research-based data.

WebMD’s health videos are a bit difficult to find from the WebMD home page, but they’re worth the effort. Each video discusses a topic in detail, often with information presented by a physician and a person who’s experienced the condition being discussed. Additionally, each health video is accompanied by a transcript, found by scrolling down the webpage.

Also found by scrolling down the page is the navigation box for WebMD’s health videos. Under the “Browse” tab, hovering the mouse over a highlighted letter will show conditions. Clicking a condition will bring up relevant health videos. Viewers can also click the “Most Viewed” or “Explore More Videos” tabs of the navigation box.

MedlinePlus’ selection of online health videos is immense and covers a wide variety of medical conditions, treatments, and procedures.

MedlinePlus’s health videos are divided into three groups: interactive tutorials, anatomy videos, and surgery videos. The anatomy videos go into detail about parts of the body and the effects of disease or medical conditions. The surgery videos vary as far as detail and background, but all contain live footage of surgical procedures.

Perhaps the most unique aspect of MedlinePlus’s video collection is the interactive tutorial. This feature is available for many different diseases, conditions, tests, procedures, and surgeries. After choosing a topic for an interactive tutorial, viewers can choose to view a “self-playing” tutorial (which is essentially a video presentation), a text summary, or an interactive tutorial.

The interactive tutorial is the same as the self-playing one, but the viewer can prompt the information to move forward when he or she is ready. The tutorial is also punctuated by several true/false questions to give the viewer a chance to make sure the material is being properly understood. While the information presented by MedlinePlus’s health videos may be quite basic, the variety of videos available, as well as the unique interactive tutorials, makes MedlinePlus worth a look.

These health video sources aren’t the only ones available on the internet.

Finding more online health videos is easy. Conduct a search for health videos on any topic, and dozens of results will doubtlessly pop up. However, if a health video is produced by someone who is either unqualified or trying to sell something, it may not be worth the time it takes to watch.

Keep in mind some of the tips from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) about finding reliable online resources:

  • Consider who is presenting or producing the video and whether or not they have authority on the subject
  • Evaluate what they’re saying and whether it’s more factually-based or emotionally-based
  • Find out when the video was made and if it’s now outdated
  • Try to find out where the video’s information is coming from and if it’s a reliable source
  • Consider why the video was made and whether its purpose is educational or commercial

For example, YouTube has a seemingly endless supply of videos. A search for “health news” turns up over three million results. For reliable, regular updates on “health news,” the search filter can be set to “channel,” which narrows the results to just over 100,000 YouTube channels dealing with health news. Each result is presented with the channel’s name, when it was last active, how many videos it’s produced, and a short blurb.

A reliable channel should provide a little information in the blurb, like its purpose or topics. More reputable, credible sources often have better grammar, so consider the channel’s name and corresponding information carefully. Also consider when the channel was last active and be wary about those channels that have been inactive for several months or years.

After selecting a channel, look at its “About” information. Many credible sources of online health videos will describe the people working to produce the videos. Obviously, health videos produced by health professionals have a higher level of credibility. Some also have a website outside of YouTube. For example, the channel UC HealthNews is affiliated with several colleges, hospitals, and physicians. It is also connected to two websites, one about health and one about health news.

Do you enjoy watching health videos online?

Image by Kevin Zollman via Flickr


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