Document Type


Publication Title

Journal of Pain Research


Introduction: Acupuncture is commonly used to treat chronic pain. Patients often access public social media platforms for healthcare information when querying acupuncture. Our study aims to appraise the utility, accuracy, and quality of information available on YouTube, a popular social media platform, on acupuncture for chronic pain treatment.
Methods: Using search terms such as “acupuncture for chronic pain” and “acupuncture pain relief”, the top 54 videos by view count were selected. Included videos were > 1 minute duration, contained audio in English, had > 7000 views, and was related to acupuncture. One primary outcome of interest was categorizing each video’s usefulness as useful, misleading, or neither. Another primary outcome of interest was the quality and reliability of each video using validated instruments, including the modified DISCERN (mDISCERN) tool and the Global Quality Scale (GQS). The means were calculated for the video production characteristics, production sources, and mDISCERN and GQS scores. Continuous and categorical outcomes were compared using Student’s t-test and chi-square test, respectively.
Results: Of the 54 videos, 57.4% were categorized as useful, 14.8% were misleading, and 27.8% were neither. Useful videos had a mean GQS and mDISCERN score of 3.77± 0.67 and 3.48± 0.63, respectively, while misleading videos had mean GQS and mDISCERN score of 2.50± 0.53 and 2.38± 0.52, respectively. 41.8% of the useful videos were produced by a healthcare institution while none of the misleading videos were produced by a healthcare institution. However, 87.5% of the misleading videos were produced by health media compared to only 25.8% of useful videos from health media.
Discussion: As patients increasingly depend on platforms like YouTube for trustworthy information on complementary health practices such as acupuncture, our study emphasizes the critical need for more higher-quality videos from unbiased healthcare institutions and physicians to ensure patients are receiving reliable information regarding this topic.



Publication Date



acupuncture, chronic pain, social media, anesthesia, information dissemination, internet