Objective Validation of YouTube™ Educational Videos for the Instruction of Regional Anesthesia Nerve Blocks

A Novel Approach

George L. Tewfik; Adam N. Work; Steven M. Shulman; Patrick Discepola


BMC Anesthesiol. 2020;20(168) 

In This Article


As one of the most popular websites in the world, YouTube offers a wide range of video content, often including submissions for medical instruction. The proliferation of video content for medical education includes lessons on regional anesthesia nerve blocks. Although the potential for free, widespread and easily accessible educational material has a very high ceiling, care must be taken to ensure that this video content is of high caliber in order to ensure patient safety and the highest levels of professionalism.

This study sought to develop an objective system by which these free educational materials (in this case YouTube instructional videos for regional anesthesia nerve blocks) could be evaluated, and their quality validated prior to use by the public. Most of the educational videos reviewed on YouTube were of high quality, and contained many of the educational characteristics established from the reference materials. The purpose of this study was not only to compare the quality of videos on YouTube to high-quality reference material, but, more importantly, to attempt to develop an objective system for future evaluation and rating.

One potential solution to ensuring video content of the highest quality may be a rating system or a checklist to ensure certain educational content is present before uploading the material. Some of the videos uploaded to YouTube and evaluated in this study were from sources that produced content of higher quality including RAUKvideos, ThePainSource, Lecturio, Galusweegie, vidRASCI, BK Medical, NYSORA and ImedrxTV. However, without a rating system or system to evaluate the presence or absence of certain educational content, a simple search on YouTube does not elucidate the quality of the content, only the views and relevance based on titles and keywords. Herein we advocate for the implementation and use of an objective system to evaluate this widely-available educational content.

When compared to regional anesthesia societies' website content, the content of the five most viewed instructional videos for each nerve block in question lacked important characteristics in multiple categories. Therefore, YouTube videos should likely not be used as primary sources when initially learning a nerve block; YouTube is not an effective substitute for textbook instruction, nor the high-quality educational material from anesthesia societies that specialize in regional anesthesia. However, these educational videos may be of value to augment already established knowledge for the experienced or learning provider wishing to refresh on skills or explore different techniques.