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Combating Misinformation Through Evidence-Based Health Videos

We created over 120 evidence-based videos on the most searched health conditions in English and Spanish — learn how and why.

Whenever something in your body starts to feel off, it seems easy to turn to the internet for answers. But you're often met with a jumbled mix of information, and it can feel like an overwhelming challenge to navigate the maze of articles and videos for reliable insights about your health concerns. 

Even though there are seemingly endless sources promising to help, the real difficulty lies in discerning which ones you can trust. 

Can you rely on the person speaking about infectious diseases from the comfort of their living room? Should you be more skeptical of the popular influencer giving the complete opposite advice?

To help people in this situation and others seeking health information online, the Stanford Center for Health Education (SCHE) has created over 120 informative videos covering the most commonly searched health conditions in both English and Spanish.

You can explore the collection on our YouTube channel. Because the content is evidence-based and meets a host of other vetting principles, YouTube has recognized SCHE as an authoritative health source. This marker helps users identify credible sources of health information more easily on the platform.

Because all content is evidence-based and meets a host of other vetting principles, YouTube has recognized SCHE as an authoritative health source.

Topics covered in the series include mental health, cancer, HIV / AIDS, substance abuse, and more. The online format has proven to be a good option for spreading information about stigmatized topics, which people are less comfortable asking in person or going to family and friends for advice. 

The most popular videos in the series address concerns such as Genital Herpes: Signs and Symptoms and Alcohol Addiction: How To Detox & Begin Recovery.

Creating the videos was a collaborative, multidisciplinary effort by a team of learning designers, production artists, and researchers. In 2021, the team began by analyzing the need: “We started with a list of commonly searched health conditions for which there were few high-quality, understandable videos already online," says Katherine Sziraczky, Senior Engagement & Strategic Initiatives Lead. 

The team then crafted scripts with Stanford Medicine faculty with the goal of helping people make informed decisions about each health condition on the list. Once a batch of scripts were finalized, they were filmed at studios on the Stanford University campus.

Stanford faculty and staff filming at video on the Stanford University campus.

Behind-the-scenes production for videos about mental health conditions. Owen Nicholas Modeste operates the camera, Katie Gleason runs the teleprompter, Dr. Carolyn Rodriguez presents, and Dr. Jonathan Berek directs.

Meanwhile, medical illustrators and motion graphic artists worked on visualizing the concepts covered in the scripts. 

Illustration of the lymphatic system.

For a video about How Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma Affects the Body, illustrator Shân Fischer drew this depiction of the lymphatic system.

For the 40+ million people in the United States who speak Spanish as their first language, 56 of the videos feature Spanish-speaking Stanford faculty members. Dr. Moises Gallegos, an emergency medicine physician, was one of the faculty members involved in creating and presenting the Spanish content.

Dr. Gallegos described the challenge of getting the language and medical terminology right for a wide audience:  “There isn’t one single Spanish language. Spanish exists in various dialects, and colloquialisms differ even within geographic areas represented by various Latin American cultures. I often found myself asking [my parents] if what I was trying to say made sense or if there was a better way to communicate the concepts and topics.” 

Despite these challenges, Dr. Gallegos found value in the content: “I see patients all the time with concerns that could have been avoided altogether with improved knowledge about how to be and stay healthy, or that could have been mitigated if the patient better understood their medical condition. Providing educational material that is accessible for patients with a non-English language preference is an opportunity to empower these individuals to have some control over their health.” 

In this video, Dr. Moises Gallegos shares key information about stomach cancer.

While challenges remain in tailoring information for different cultural contexts, the videos demonstrate a model for responsibly bridging the gap between complex medical topics and everyday health concerns. 

The videos have already received over 4 million views on YouTube. In today's online landscape, where misinformation runs rampant, resources like these allow people to make informed decisions about their well-being.

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