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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

WashU: Twitter Users Target Diabetes

Medical resources were the most common diabetes tweet topics for Twitter users, while diabetes-related events were most likely to be “favorited” and retweeted, according to new research from the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis.

Jenine Harris

Dr. Jenine Harris

Researchers took a random sample of 100 tweets with the hashtag “#diabetes” from each day during a constructed week and used crowdsourcing to classify topics and user types.

They found that tweet topics such medical resources (e.g., new drugs, alternative therapy or screening) may be associated with tweet engagement in public health. Researchers also concluded that Amazon’s Mechanical Turk platform could be a reliable, quick and economical way to use crowdsourcing to code large amounts of social media data.

“The widespread use of social media to find health information and the potential for social media engagement to influence health behavior presents an opportunity to better understand engagement with diabetes information online,” wrote the study’s lead author, Dr. Jenine K. Harris, Assistant Professor at the Brown School.

The paper was published May 7 in Preventing Chronic Disease.

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