With the Internet at your fingertips, it is easy to get information on
a wide variety of subjects these days. However, there is little guarantee
that much of the information you will find is high-quality, reliable or
As pointed out in two studies that were recently presented at the American
Urological Association's (AUA) annual meeting in Orlando, a good example
of this problem can be found in the way people are getting information about
transvaginal mesh products.
Researchers found consumers are getting information about these controversial
medical devices from a variety of online sources, including YouTube and
social media. However, misconceptions and confusion remain.
Study Finds Understanding of Mesh Products is Lacking
Transvaginal mesh products are used to treat women suffering from pelvic
organ prolapse (POP) and stress urinary incontinence (SUI). According to the
U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), numerous adverse event reports have been filed by women who used
these products, including reports concerning the devices' failure
and complications that include pain, bleeding and sexual dysfunction.
One study recently presented at the AUA meeting came from the Glickman
Urologic and Kidney Institute at the Cleveland Clinic. The study looked
at how women are getting their information about transvaginal mesh products.
Researchers asked 25 questions to potential vaginal mesh patients new to
the clinic between March and November 2013. Among these women, the study found:
- 70 percent got all of their information on transvaginal mesh products from TV
- 61 percent were aware of the FDA's safety communication on the dangers of mesh
- 65 percent were unsure if the mesh used for POP and SUI was the same
- 50 percent incorrectly believed there was a mesh recall.
The researchers concluded that the patients simply did not understand the
uses of mesh or the dangers associated with these products.
Can YouTube Be a Good Source of Information?
The second study looked specifically at YouTube, one of the largest and
most frequently-visited websites offering information on vaginal mesh.
Researchers with the New York University Langone Medical Center searched
through YouTube videos about vaginal mesh, examining the first 100 results-those
that patients would likely view in their own searches.
Analyzing the content of the videos, the researchers found that 69 percent
were from law firms, 24 percent were from medical institutions and seven
percent were from another source.
Many of these videos, no-doubt, had redeeming qualities. For instance,
the medical sources tended to be longer and contained more information
than other sources. However, at the same time, those videos tended to
be older (and may not have featured the most up-to-date information).
The videos from law firms had more information on the latest developments
- specifically FDA safety communications about the devices.
Still, as the research indicates, no one single source on YouTube could
provide the "big picture" about transvaginal mesh products that
consumers needed to make informed decisions about these products.
This research underscores something very important: Online sources can
be excellent ways to get information about transvaginal mesh and other
products, and they can provide you with a good foundation of knowledge.
However, it is important to go beyond what you learn online and actually
speak with a doctor or attorney to learn more about these products and
to address any concerns you may have about using them to treat your condition.