Study Shows Popularity of CVD Conversations on Twitter
Twitter data have the potential to serve as a source for cardiovascular research and patient communication, according to a study published Sept. 28 in JAMA Cardiology.
Raina M. Merchant, MD, MSHP, et al., analyzed 550,338 tweets from July 2009 to February 2015 associated with cardiovascular disease, specifically those with the keywords diabetes, myocardial infarction (MI), cardiac arrest, heart failure and hypertension. All tweets were in English and could be mapped to a county in the U.S.
The results of the analysis showed that diabetes and MI were among the most tweeted topics, while heart failure was the least (200,000+ tweets vs. 10,000, respectively). Users who tweeted about cardiology were more likely to be female (48.8 percent) and older than the average Twitter user (28.7 vs. 25.4 years old, respectively). Further, researchers found that the "data available on Twitter reflect real-time changes in discussion of a disease topic," with spikes in tweets identifiable during events such as World Diabetes Day.
According to the study authors, "Twitter may be useful for studying public communications about cardiovascular disease. The use of Twitter for clinical research is still in its infancy. Its value and direct applications remain to be seen and warrant further exploration."
In a response to the study authors' analysis of Twitter data, Robert Harrington, MD, MACC, and Mintu P. Turakhia, MD, MS, FACC, state that "other uses of social media in areas related to clinical care or research are rapidly being explored, including drug safety surveillance by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, monitoring of prescription medication abuse, recruitment and conduct of clinical trials, and as an intervention to improve caregiver and peer support for, education in, and management of chronic diseases."
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