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Top TikTok Videos on Vasectomy Share Poor Quality Information

Researchers examined 100 most-liked videos using a health information assessment tool

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Stephanie Lopez
Stephanie Lopez
919-724-5934 Email

DURHAM, N.C. – Reports of rising rates in vasectomy procedures following the Supreme Court decision on Dobbs are not hard to find, raising questions about the accuracy of information online.

Duke Health researchers evaluated videos on TikTok using a standard rubric for assessing the quality of health information. They found that videos about vasectomy have low medical accuracy, with an average score of 0.19 out of 5.

Study findings appear June 19 in AUANews.

“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 Jonas Swartz, M.D., senior author of the study and assistant professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Duke University School of Medicine.

“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.

TikTok has become a space where one-in-five Americans search for information on health. The platform is especially popular among young people, who often do not consume news and information from other more traditional sources.

Examining the 100 most liked videos tagged “#vasectomy” on the social media platform, which garnered a combined 353 million views, the researchers also found:

  • 12% of the videos offered scientific or healthcare information and 6% were made by a healthcare professional.
  • The videos averaged 83% in understandability and 1.3% in actionability.
  • 11% mentioned abortion, and 70% mentioned the male role in contraception.

The study is one of several studies that researchers in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Duke Health have done to examine information quality on TikTok about reproductive topics, such as IUDs and endometriosis.

“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 Jessica Liu, first author of the study and medical student at Duke University School of Medicine.

“It 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.

Researchers say this study’s findings, and the findings of the previous TikTok studies done at Duke, all point to that same need for quality information on social media platforms.

In addition to Swartz, study authors include Jessica Liu, Jenny Wu, Josip Vukina, Alexandria Mullikin, Khushnood Faraz, Jonas J. Swartz.

The study received support from a grant provided by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (K12HD103083).

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