How Reliable is TikTok for Information about Hair Loss? — Donovan Hair Clinic

How reliable is TikTok for Hair loss loss information?


TikTok has over 1 billion active monthly users. TikTok is used to disseminate dermatology information.  Authors of a new study set out to evaluate how reliable the information on TikTok is when it comes to hair loss.

The DISCERN questionnaire is a reliable and valid instrument for judging the quality of written consumer health information. It was developed and published in 1989. The DISCERN score is a 16 item questionnaire that assesses the quality of consumer health information and give each item a score from 1 (poor) to 5 (excellent) followed by an overall score from 1-5 summarizing the 16 items.

Nguyen et al. 2022

The authors of a new study analysed the characteristics and reliability of the most viewed TikTok videos on alopecia areata, traction alopecia, trichotillomania, female and male pattern hair loss, alopecia universalis, telogen effluvium and frontal fibrosing alopecia. The authors conducted their review of TIKTOK videos on February 17 2022 and included the 25 most popular videos for each diagnosis. In total there were 183 videos included in their study with a total of 101 million views.

54.6 % of the videos related to patient person experience. 32.8 % were educational in nature.

Of those 60 videos deemed to be ‘educational’ videos, 70.0% discussed treatments, 58.3% discussed causes of hair loss, 15.0% discussed diagnosis and 8.3% nutrition

64.5 % of videos were created by patients, 10 % by dermatologists, 8.7 % by self-proclaimed hair experts, 4.4 % by other medical practitioners (PA, NP, RN), 3.8% by barbers or hairstylists, 2.7 % by non dermatologist physicians, 2.2 % by dermatology residents and 1.1 % made by trichologists.


How Reliable is the Hair Loss Information on TikTok?

Of videos categorized as ‘educational’, the authors then set out to further evaluate their reliability and calculated the DISCERN scores from 1 to 5.  A videos was marked as ‘reliable’ if it did not contain any information that conflicted with evidence-based guidelines. Two independent raters assessed and calculated the DISCERN scores

All videos posted by physicians (26/26) were considered ‘reliable’, compared with 56% (19/34) of videos posted by non-physicians.  Reliability of patients videos was scored at 50 % and videos from barber /hairstylists at 67 %.


DISCERN scores were highest for board certified dermatolgoists and lower in all other groups and lowerest in barber/hairsytles and patients.Interrater reliability was high indicating that raters agreed pretty closely with their opinions on these videos.

The following were the DISCERN scores for various groups:

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