The National Cancer Institute (NCI) is doing a fascinating study with Google to find out the best way to convey cancer information to consumers via YouTube. If you work for a Federal agency or department, and utilize YouTube, you may want check it out since they already have some great “lessons learned”.
Here’s what they doing: Recognizing that the videos posted on their YouTube channel (“A Trusted Source for Cancer News”) tend to plateau at 500 views, they’ve decided to get smarter about how they create their videos. NCI’s “YouTube project team” is working with Google/YouTube engineers to create and maintain a database of all cancer content on YouTube and get a “snapshot” of what’s out there. That way they can identify the gaps and figure out the best way to present information to reach and motivate the consumer.
Their hope is to improve the science of e-health communications and take a data driven approach to posting NCI content on YouTube. (A particular concern to NCI is the quality and veracity of information that individuals are getting via internet-based sources.)
What? We shouldn’t just slap things up on YouTube and hope someone looks at it? And pray that they listen to your video and change their behavior?
If you’re serious about e-health communications (or any communication for that matter) the answer is no.
So, kudos to NIH for talking a research-based approach and trying to figure this out. Ultimately, it will help them prioritize their consumer outreach, perhaps in areas such as prevention and screening, disparities in cancer care among ethnic and racial minorities, and where to find information.
Here are a few preliminary results they’ve already uncovered:
-Horizontal communications (peer-to-peer) are better than vertical communications (physician in a lab coat talking into the camera)
-Fast is always preferable to slow editing (okay, we probably all know that one…)
-Comedy over other genres
The results of this study should be available this summer–if you want to learn more, contact Jeffrey Swarz, NCI’s Health Communications Technology R&D manager at [email protected]