Context • Cupping is a complementary and alternative therapy that attracts much attention on social media.
Objective • The study intended to examine the types of user-generated content found on YouTube on the practice of cupping therapy as a form of pain management.
Design • The current research team searched YouTube for videos on cupping therapy on August 14, 2016.
Setting • The Internet was accessed from Wayne, NJ, USA.
Outcome Measures • The research team manually coded the 100 most widely viewed, cupping videos for content and sources. Logistic regression was applied to obtain the association of video source—consumer, news, or professional—to each of the 21 content categories.
Results • In total, the 100 videos were viewed more than 36.80 million times. Among them, 52 were consumer videos; 16 were professional videos; and 32 were news videos. Compared to news videos, (1) the odds of consumer videos mentioning what cupping is were 85.90% lower-odds ratio (OR) = 0.14, 95% confidence interval (CI) (0.04 to 0.52), P < .01; (2) the odds of consumer videos and professional videos mentioning an increase in blood flow as a benefit were 93.50% lower—OR = 0.07, 95% CI (0.02 to 0.24), P < .01—and 82.80% lower—OR = 0.17, 95% CI (0.04 to 0.82), P = .03, respectively; and (3) the odds of consumer videos mentioning a decrease in inflammation as a benefit were 92.9% lower—OR = 0.07, 95% CI
(0.02 to 0.21), P < .01.
Conclusions • The current study found that, despite the large presence of consumer-based videos in YouTube regarding cupping therapy, news sources were more widely viewed. Health professionals could engage more with YouTube by providing clear and authentic information about a popular alternative therapy.