Decrease Text SizeIncrease Text SizeFacebookTwitterYoutubeInstagramLinkedIn

CHEO Study Shows Effectiveness of YouTube as Tool for Clinical Diagnosis

OTTAWA – Researchers at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) have completed a study showing how YouTube can significantly help speed a clinical diagnosis, and have created an assessment tool to determine the accuracy of individual videos.

In a study titled ‘YouTube as a Teaching Tool and Resource for Infantile Spasms”, neurologist Dr. Erick Sell and his team found that YouTube videos can be a useful source of information for parents and physicians. While the study focused on infantile spasms, they hope the principle could be applied to a variety of health concerns.

“As a neurologist, seeing a child having a seizure can help make a better diagnosis. It allows you to quickly differentiate between complex seizures and spasmodic episodes that aren’t necessarily seizures,” explains Dr. Sell.


In the past, neurologists had to rely only on a parent’s verbal description of their child’s spasms to help make their diagnosis. More recently, parents would bring videos of their children’s seizures to their medical appointment. If no video is available for the patient, YouTube can provide a wide variety of examples that doctors and patients can use to describe and discuss the types of seizures, and more quickly make an appropriate diagnosis.

“We searched the internet to see what was available to families and we were surprised by the number of high quality videos we found on You Tube,” adds Dr. Sell. “However, the key thing with using the Internet for health information is being able to distinguish between accurate clinical examples and misinformation.”


The team created a tool – the Medical Video Rating Scale (MVRS) -- to assess the quality and diagnostic accuracy of videos on the Internet against a preset criteria. By using this tool, physicians and other experts can help families separate the reliable examples from the misleading.

This tool was pilot tested by Dr. Sell and three investigators involved in the study. The first component of MVRS assesses the technical quality of relevant videos based on assessing lighting, sound, angle, resolution and duration of the videos. The next step assesses videos based on diagnostic accuracy and, finally, the effectiveness of the video as a clinical example.

“In terms of this study on infantile spasms, there were a number of correct diagnoses and excellent clinical examples, suggesting that YouTube may be an excellent resource for parents and medical experts if guided search practices are used,” said Dr. Sell. “The hope is that MVRS can be used by physicians in the future to evaluate videos on health issues and help provide a trust source of information for patients and families.”

Though MRSV is in the process of becoming an approved video ranking tool in the medical field, it may be used by other physicians and is currently being used at CHEO to rate YouTube videos as a resource for Tourette’s Syndrome.

Link to abstract:

For more information, please contact :

Isabelle Mailloux Pulkinghorn

Communications Specialist  I  Spécialiste en communications                                                                Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario I Centre hospitalier pour enfants de l’est de l’Ontario

613. 737. 7600 ext. 3536  I I

Take Action


 Kids Health Alliance logo

Improving access to coordinated, consistent, high-quality health care for children, youth and their families. 

Quick Links

Programs & Health Info
magnifying glass

Letter aLetter bLetter cLetter eLetter fLetter g Letter hLetter iLetter jLetter kLetter lLetter mLetter nLetter oLetter pLetter qLetter rLetter sLetter t Letter uLetter vLetter wLetter xLetter yLetter z
Zoomed image Close