A Study Reveals Twitter Could Assist Track Public Health
As per the researchers, a person’s tweet may unveil if he/she is sick. It is a different approach, isn’t it? Yes, the team found that keeping an eye on social media trends can assist doctors to rapidlyspot a rise of depression, influenza, or any other health problems in a particularregion. Public health vogues on social media are more distinct than seeking for spikes of “flu” or “I feel sick.”
To actually tap this public data source, the research team at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) of the US Department of Energy desired tocomprehend the patterns of how individualsactin a different way on social media when they are unwell. The research team exposed the expression of emotion and opinion as a potential indication on Twitter. Svitlana Volkova, Data Scientist and Lead Author, said, “Emotions and opinions are present in all tweets, irrespective of whether the individual is talking about their well-being.”
Volkova further added, “Similar to adigital heartbeat, we are seeking how variations in this behavior associate with health trends in a society.” At a time when companies mine data from social media accounts for financial gain and targeted advertising, scientists at PNNL asked how this data can be used to benefit the community. One of those domains is public health. Manyweeks are required by health workers to recognize influenza trends by the means of traditional approach—by screening how many unwellindividuals visit clinics.
According to the scientists, by finding trends instantaneously, social media can be a solution that public health workers have been seeking. Around 171 Million tweets were studied from users linked to the US military to find out if the emotions and opinions they express reveal visits for influenza-like illnesses to the doctor. They compared civilian and military users from 6 international and 25 US locations to observe if this pattern differs on the basis of military and location affiliation. For confidentiality, the tweets utilized in this study were anonymized.
Overall, they discovered how the behavior of individuals differs considerably by group and location. For instance, tweets belonging to military groups tend to comprise less positive and more negative opinions, along with increased emotions of fear, sadness, anger, and disgust. This trend is factualirrespective of health. Individuals behave distinctly on the basis of theworldright around them.
The team, to that end, recognized location-dependent patterns of emotion and opinion that linktovisits of clinics for influenza-like illnesses. They established a general trend. Sadness and neutral opinions were articulated most during elevated influenza-like illness phases. During low illness phases, positive opinion, surprise,and anger were expressed more.