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31 May 2016

Kang S et al. Community Ment Health J 2016 [Epub ahead of print].

The media shapes the public’s perceptions of mental illness. Contrary to other mental disorders, ADHD coverage in the media has not been the subject of extensive research. Studies performed to date have mainly investigated the coverage of ADHD by traditional media such as newspapers and magazines. The increased reliance on the Internet, however, highlights the need to investigate coverage of ADHD by online sources such as YouTube.

A total of 685 YouTube videos identified by keyword search (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and ADHD) were analysed for how they represent and frame ADHD. The study investigated the framing components, particularly the ADHD-relevant issues highlighted, sources of information and episodic versus thematic aspects of the videos. An episodic frame refers to a personal story emphasising personal responsibility, whereas a thematic frame assigns causes and solutions to society.

The top three issues discussed in the videos were symptom (10.3%), child (10.1%) and treatment (10.1%), whereas those that drew the least focus were race (0.1%), legal case (0.2%) and vaccine (0.3%). The top three most interviewed sources were doctors (28.8%), patients (16.5%) and supporters (7.5%). Videos from public sources (government and company representatives) were rare. Frames discussing causes of ADHD were more likely to be episodic (mean=0.29) than thematic (mean=0.16; p<0.001). There were more thematic frames when videos examined problems around ADHD and solutions to these problems.

In conclusion, YouTube is an important tool to use to heighten the awareness of ADHD. However, in this study, personal videos vastly outnumbered those from more authoritative sources such as governments and public agencies. Increased efforts are needed to disseminate credible information about ADHD.

Read more about representations of ADHD on YouTube here

Kang S, Ha JS, Velasco T. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder on YouTube: framing, anchoring, and objectification in social media. Community Ment Health J 2016; [Epub ahead of print].

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