Social Media and Health

Use of social media platforms and data to disseminate health information and to understand and improve individual and population health behaviors and outcomes.

Use of Mobile Apps: A Patient‐centered Approach

Nov. 5, 2015

Lauren VonHoltz, Kendra Houdek, Brendan Carr, Frances Shofer, Flaura Winston, C. William Hanson, Raina Merchant.

In Academic Emergency Medicine, Lauren VonHoltz and colleagues, including Raina Merchant and Flaura Winston, surveyed 300 Emergency Department patients to explore their use of smartphone health applications (apps).  Of 300 participants, 212 (71%) owned smartphones, 201 (95%) had apps, and 94 (44%) had health apps. The most frequently downloaded health apps focused on exercise, brain teasers or diet. Only 2% of the health apps were recommended to patients by their health care provider. Patients used their health apps intermittently, with 55% of apps used once a month or less.  They...

Linking social media and medical record data: a study of adults presenting to an academic, urban emergency department

Oct. 15, 2015

Kevin A Padrez, Lyle Ungar, Hansen Schwartz, Robert J Smith, Shawndra Hill, Tadas Antanavicius, Dana Brown,  Patrick Crutchley, David AschRaina Merchant

In BMJ Quality and Safety, Kevin Padrez and colleagues, including David Asch and Raina Merchant, explore the acceptability to patients and potential utility to researchers of a database linking patients’ social media content with their electronic medical record (EMR) data. The authors approached adult Facebook/Twitter users who presented to an emergency department. Many patients were willing to share and link their social media data with EMR data. Patients that shared their social media data were younger, more likely to post at least once a day, and more likely to present to the...

What do patients say about emergency departments in online reviews? A qualitative study

Sep. 14, 2015

Austin S. Kilaru, Zachary F. Meisel, Breah Paciotti, Yoonhee P. Ha, Robert J. Smith, Benjamin L. Ranard, Raina M. Merchant

In BMJ Quality and Safety, Austin Kilaru and colleagues, including Zachary Meisel and Raina Merchant, seek to better understand how patients’ use of web-based tools to reflect on their health care experiences compares with in-patient surveys. They analyzed online reviews for U.S. emergency departments (EDs) posted on the consumer ratings website Yelp. The authors collected reviews describing experiences of ED care for a random sample of 100 U.S. hospitals. They analyzed the content of the reviews against themes from the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and...

Hidden in Plain Sight: A Crowdsourced Public Art Contest to Make Automated External Defibrillators More Visible

Feb. 24, 2015

Raina Merchant, Heather Griffis, Yoonhee Ha, Austin Kilaru, Allison Sellers, John Hershey, Shawndra Hill, Emily Kramer-Golinkoff, Lindsay Nadkarni, Margaret Debski, Kevin Padrez, Lance Becker, David Asch

Raina Merchant and colleagues want to raise awareness about automated external defibrillators (AEDs) and use artwork to make AED locations more memorable. In a recent article in the American Journal of Public Health, Merchant et al use an online crowdsourcing design contest -- the Defibrillator Design Challenge -- to engage the public to this end. The goal of the project was not to install designs submitted as part of the contest, but to test whether the public would create them, vote on them, and share them. It is a follow-up to...

Psychological Language on Twitter Predicts County-Level Heart Disease Mortality

Feb. 1, 2015

Johannes C. Eichstaedt, Hansen Andrew Schwartz, Margaret L. Kern, Gregory Park, Darwin R. Labarthe, Raina M. Merchant, Sneha Jha, Megha Agrawal, Lukasz A. Dziurzynski, Maarten Sap, Christopher Weeg, Emily E. Larson, Lyle H. Ungar, Martin E. P. Seligman

In the journal Psychological Science, Johannes C. Eichstaedt and colleagues, including Raina Merchant, analyze Twitter language to look for correlation with community-level mortality from atherosclerotic heart disease (AHD). Using a ‘social media language model’, a cross-sectional regression, they find statistically significant relationships between negative sentiment and higher mortality – and protective effects of positive sentiment. Most of the relationships remain significant after controlling for income and education. The authors posit that their model predicts AHD mortality...

Presentation on US Hospital Websites of Risks and Benefits of Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement Procedures

Jan. 12, 2015

Mariah L. Kincaid, Lee A. Fleisher, Mark D. Neuman

In JAMA Internal Medicine, Mariah Kincaid (Tufts University) and Penn colleagues Lee Fleisher and Mark Neuman assess how risks and benefits of transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) are communicated on hospital websites. TAVR was recently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of severe aortic stenosis among carefully selected patients. Recent randomized clinical trials have identified important positive and negative outcomes of TAVR, including twice the risk of stroke for patients undergoing TAVR vs those undergoing open aortic valve...

Using Social Media to Engage Adolescents and Young Adults with Their Health

Dec. 1, 2014

Charlene A. Wong, Raina M. Merchant, Megan A. Moreno

In Healthcare, Charlene Wong and Raina Marchant, along with Megan Moreno of the University of Washington, discuss how to improve health-related communication with young people through the use of social media. With relatively low health care utilization, while at the same time being ubiquitous users and often the earliest adopters of social media, many adolescents and young adults might be better reached via social media than through traditional channels. The authors suggest that social media could be used for everything from providing information on issues like sexual and mental health to...