A new study shows that YouTube a popular site for watching videos of everything from kittens playing to kids singing is not the most reliable source for finding out how to perform CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation).
Researchers found that from the 52 videos they discovered on YouTube of individuals teaching how you can perform CPR, half were uploaded by people with no apparent health qualifications.
Of the remainder, most were posted by either a private group (not really a government agency or medical group with official CPR guidelines) or by individuals who claimed they were a certified CPR instructor, doctor or paramedic.
Lead researcher Dr. Karthik Murugiah told Reuters Health in an e-mail that many of the videos gave accurate information about how to perform CPR.
However, there have been also many more that showed the wrong or incomplete picture, said Murugiah, a helper professor at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee.
Nearly 65 percent, for example, either incorrectly described the rate of CPR chest compressions or didn’t cover the detail at all. And 57 percent fell short on showing viewers how deep the chest area compressions should be.
The ideal rate is at least 100 compressions per minute, according to the American Heart Association (AHA). Each compression should be about two inches deep in adults and children, and about one and a half inches in infants. It is important to let the chest go back to its starting position after each compression, so rescuers shouldn’t rely on the chest area between compressions.
Also, only a handful of the videos handled “hands-only” CPR, where bystanders skip the standard mouth-to-mouth breathing and perform chest compressions only. That’s important since the AHA and other medical groups now recommend that whenever a grownup suddenly collapses and is unresponsive, bystanders perform hands-only CPR unless they’re positive about remarkable ability to complete traditional CPR.
“I would say although there is very accurate information out there on YouTube,” Murugiah said, adding “it is not easy for the lay person to wade through all of the content and watch the best videos. And there is a risk of dissemination of incorrect information.”
He said the findings, reported in the journal Resuscitation, suggest that guideline-making groups, such as the AHA and Red Cross, is deserving of more CPR information to online venues such as YouTube.
Of course, content on YouTube changes rather quickly. And since the time of the research, which began in February 2010, the AHA has added a few CPR-teaching videos to its YouTube channel (http://www.youtube.com/user/americanheartassoc).
The Red Cross also has a video demonstrating hands-only CPR on its channel (http://www.youtube.com/user/AmRedCross).
Murugiah asserted both AHA and also the Red Cross videos are “certainly good, reliable sources of information on CPR.” But even their videos, he added, are somewhat vague on detail and show “room for improvement.”