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.

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...

Why Your Colleagues Aren’t on Twitter (or Facebook)

Jun. 6, 2014

“University professors…just don’t matter in today’s great debates,” wrote New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof earlier this year, igniting a fiery national discussion on the role of academia in public policy. Kristof went on to criticize not these professors’ methods or findings, but rather the gaps between such findings and the public who can use them. His plea?

Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Taxes and Beyond

Oct. 15, 2013

By the 2014 election, groups on both sides of the ACA debate will have spent close to $1 billion on advertising, with little change in public opinion. Sarah Gollust thinks she knows why, from her research on the messaging surrounding sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) taxes.

Flu Season Does Not Shut Down

Oct. 2, 2013

With the launch of health insurance marketplaces and the shutdown of the federal government, there hasn't been much attention paid to something else that happens this time of year: the start of flu season. Under normal circumstances, the CDC would be launching a campaign to encourage flu vaccinations. But these are not normal circumstances as evidenced in the latest CDC Flu tweet: