Nurses should go on the offensive against YouTube videos that stereotype them as sexual playthings or witless, according to a report published in a nursing journal on Monday.
Researchers led by Gerard Fealy, a professor of nursing and midwifery at University College Dublin in Ireland, analysed the 10 most-viewed clips on the popular video-sharing site in response to the keywords "nurses" and "nursing."
Four of the 10 videos were posted by nurses, and showed the job of caregiver as skilled, professional and rewarding.
Two of the clips were from a cartoon and a US sitcom that showed nurses as stupid or incompetent.
The other four - from the US TV comedy Frasier, a Virgin Mobile ad, a Belgian lingerie commercial and an item from an Internet TV news show - portrayed nurses as scantily dressed or willing participants in male sexual fantasies.
"Despite being hailed as a medium of the people, our study showed that YouTube is no different to other mass media in the way that it propagates gender-bound, negative and demeaning nursing stereotypes," said Fealy.
"Such stereotypes can influence how people see nurses and behave towards them."
He called for a change.
"We feel that the professional bodies that regulate and represent nurses need to lobby legislators to protect the profession from undue negative stereotyping and support nurses who are keen to use YouTube to promote their profession in a positive light."