Assessing the quality of publicly available videos on MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD

Mariam Kyarunts, Meghna P. Mansukhani, Larissa L. Loukianova, Bhanu P. Kolla

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background and Objectives: Patients increasingly rely on the Internet for healthcare information. This study aimed to evaluate the quality of videos on 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA)-assisted psychotherapy for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) on YouTube™. Methods: YouTube™ was searched for the terms “MDMA” and “PTSD.” The 100 most viewed videos were analyzed using three standard quality measures: Global Quality Scores (GQS), JAMA benchmark, and DISCERN. Viewer engagement features and source of upload, video duration, inclusion of patient narrative and/or MD/DO/PhD, the mention of lack of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval, side effects, potential for abuse, and use in conjunction with psychotherapy were recorded. Results: The videos were of poor quality (mean GQS: 2.26 ± 0.94/5, JAMA: 1.96 ± 0.45/4, and DISCERN: 29.5 ± 8.2/80). A significant positive association was found between video quality and duration (GQS: r =.5857, p <.0001, JAMA: r =.279, p =.0409, DISCERN: r =.5783, p <.0001). Videos including an MD/DO/PhD had the highest scores (GQS: 2.87/5 [1.22], p =.006, DISCERN: 38.35/80 [13.32], p <.0003). A minority of videos were uploaded by academic institutions (1%); most were from professional organizations (29%). No correlation was found between quality and viewer engagement features-number of views, subscribers, likes/dislikes, or comments. A majority mentioned that MDMA must be used in conjunction with psychotherapy (85%) and is not FDA-approved (82%) for PTSD. Only 32% of videos mentioned risks or potential for abuse. Conclusions: These findings highlight the need for better quality of online health material and an opportunity for involvement of healthcare professionals in the dissemination of accurate health information via content creation. Scientific Significance: This is the first study to examine publicly available information on the use of MDMA for PTSD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)502-507
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal on Addictions
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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