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How Twitter can be used to address specific health issues

How Twitter can be used to address specific health issues | healthcare technology | Scoop.it

A new study led by Jenine K. Harris, PhD, examined the use of the hashtag #childhoodobesity in tweets to track Twitter conversations about the issue of overweight kids.


The study noted that conversations involving childhood obesity on Twitter don't often include comments from representatives of government and public health organizations that likely have evidence relating to how best to approach this issue. The authors think maybe they should.


Twitter use is growing nationwide. In its 2014 Twitter update, the Pew Research Center found that Twitter is used more by those in lower-income groups, which traditionally are more difficult to reach with health information.


While younger Americans also are more likely to use Twitter, it is used equally across education groups and is used more by non-white Americans than whites.


This, Harris said, is one of the reasons Twitter is an avenue that the academic and government sources with accurate health information should consider taking advantage of in order to reach a wide variety of people.


"I think public health so far doesn't have a great game plan for using social media, we're still laying the foundation for that," she said. "We're still learning what works.


"Public health communities, politicians, and government sources -- people who really know what works -- should join in the conversation. Then we might be able to make an impact," she said.

more at http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140710151723.htm


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askdrmaxwell's curator insight, July 14, 2014 6:09 PM

Do you use social media for your health questions and research? 

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Social Media Can Boost Disease Outbreak Monitoring, Study Finds

Social Media Can Boost Disease Outbreak Monitoring, Study Finds | healthcare technology | Scoop.it

Monitoring social media websites like Twitter could help health officials and providers identify in real time severe medical outbreaks, allowing them to more efficiently direct resources and curb the spread of disease, according to a San Diego State University studypublished last month in the Journal of Medical Internet Research,Medical News Today reports.


Study Details


For the study, lead researcher and San Diego State University geography professor Ming-Hsiang Tsou and his team used a program to monitor tweets that originated within a 17-mile radius of 11 cities. The program recorded details of tweets containing the words "flu" or "influenza," including:


  • Origin;
  • Username;
  • Whether the tweet was an original or a retweet; and
  • Any links to websites in the tweet.


Researchers then compared their findings with regional data based on CDC's definition of influenza-like illness.

The program recorded data on 161,821 tweets that included the word "flu" and 6,174 tweets that included the word "influenza" between June 2012 and the beginning of December 2012.


According to the study, nine of the 11 cities exhibited a statistically significant correlation between an uptick in the number of tweets mentioning the keywords and regional outbreak reports. In five of the cities -- Denver, Fort Worth, Jacksonville, San Diego and Seattle -- the algorithm noted the outbreaks sooner than regional reports.

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John Mark Bwanika's curator insight, December 7, 2013 5:13 AM

Research on social media......

Drew Hodges's curator insight, February 19, 2015 5:50 PM

This is a cool article to show the real life change that social media is creating. Before it was stated that it would take up to two weeks to detect an outbreak of a disease but now with social media it can be done in a day. 

This article really shows how social media is becoming a part of our everyday life and is taking on roles that we probably didn't expect it to. 

However with the number of users increasing it is important to have tools that help us monitor the large amount of data that is present. 

Its no good having all this information if we cannot harness it's true potential, like the one illustrated in this article for disease break out.

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FDA Looks to Urge Companies to Tweet Drug Risks

FDA Looks to Urge Companies to Tweet Drug Risks | healthcare technology | Scoop.it

The FDA is looking into a new way to regulate drugs and medical devices—by using social media. The agency has drafted social media guidelines that would urge drug companies to use platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, to educate the public about the risks of their prescription drug or medical device.

The draft guidelines, which are currently under review by the agency, propose that companies be required to use the “character space constraints” on social media platforms such as Twitter to tweet the risks, along with the benefits, of a product. The guidelines also recommend that manufacturers include a link that takes readers to more information about the product. In the case of Twitter, that information should all be included in a single tweet.

    If a firm concludes that adequate benefit and risk information, as well as other required information, cannot all be communicated within the same character-space-limited communication, then the firm should reconsider using that platform for the intended promotional message.

If approved, the guidelines will become the first formal recommendation by the agency regarding manufacturers’ use of social media.


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Tweeting For Public Health: Tracking Food Poisoning Via Social Media

Tweeting For Public Health: Tracking Food Poisoning Via Social Media | healthcare technology | Scoop.it

Can Twitter be mined for information on food poisoning outbreaks? One Google data scientist thinks so. Adam Sadilek led a team at the University of Rochester that developed Nemesis , a machine learning system which asks "which restaurants should you avoid today?"


Using a set of keywords, Nemesis mines Twitter for geolocated posts that could be indicative of foodborne illness. In tests, tweets from New York were datamined and had metadata added indicating restaurants within 25 meters that were open at the time the user tweeted. A team of humans recruited via Mechanical Turk then came up with 27 words and phrases indicating food poisoning--things like "My tummy hurts," "stomachache," "throw up," "Mylanta," and "Pepto-Bismol." Nemesis then assigned health scores to the nearby restaurants based on the proportion of food poisoning-inferring tweets.

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