"No matter what field you're in, social media is the future of how we communicate around the world," said Chante Karimkhani, MD candidate in the lab of Robert Dellavalle, investigator at the University Of Colorado, School Of Medicine.

The study queried YouTube for search terms related to dermatology including ‘sun protection, skin cancer, skin cancer awareness, and skin conditions.’

Results included 100 videos with a cumulative 47 million views. The videos were shared a total of 101,173 times and drove 6,325 subscriptions to distinct YouTube user pages.

According to researchers, these results point to a new opportunity to disseminate research directly to the public. For example, of the videos displayed with the search query ‘skin cancer’, 25 percent were educational and another 25 percent were what the researchers considered ‘complementary and alternative medicine videos.’

Overall, only 35 percent of videos across all dermatology search terms were uploaded by or featured a biomedical professional.

The researchers hope that as more academic institutions, researchers and journals recognize the promise and accept the challenge of social media, information directly from these credible and well-meaning sources may be able to change the popular conversation.

The study was published in the journal Dermatology.