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YouTube as a source of quit smoking information for people living with mental illness


Background YouTube is the most popular video sharing website, and is increasingly used to broadcast health information including smoking cessation advice. This study examines the quality and quantity of YouTube quit smoking videos targeted at people living with mental illness (MI).

Methods We systematically searched YouTube using selected relevant search terms. The first 50 videos obtained for each search term were screened for relevance and further videos screened through snowball sampling. Forty unique, English language videos focussing on people with MI were included in the assessment and evaluated for general video characteristics, themes, format, targeted smoking cessation and harm reduction information.

Results Most videos either discussed the problem of high smoking rates among people with MI (n=12) or smoking cessation programmes and policies at an institutional level (n=13). Only nine videos were aimed at providing quit smoking advice to this population. One video recommended higher doses of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) for people with MI while six videos referred to possible changes in medication dosage on quitting smoking. Four videos suggested cutting down smoking for harm reduction.

Conclusions Very few YouTube videos specifically focus on the problem of high smoking rates among people with MI and even fewer provide targeted smoking cessation and harm reduction advice for this priority population. There is a need to develop comprehensive, evidence based, quit smoking video resources for smokers with a MI.

  • Harm Reduction
  • Priority/special populations
  • Media
  • Cessation
  • Disparities

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