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BMC Public Health ; 22(1): 446, 2022 03 07.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1731526


BACKGROUND: Open online forums like Reddit provide an opportunity to quantitatively examine COVID-19 vaccine perceptions early in the vaccine timeline. We examine COVID-19 misinformation on Reddit following vaccine scientific announcements, in the initial phases of the vaccine timeline. METHODS: We collected all posts on Reddit ( from January 1 2020 - December 14 2020 (n=266,840) that contained both COVID-19 and vaccine-related keywords. We used topic modeling to understand changes in word prevalence within topics after the release of vaccine trial data. Social network analysis was also conducted to determine the relationship between Reddit communities (subreddits) that shared COVID-19 vaccine posts, and the movement of posts between subreddits. RESULTS: There was an association between a Pfizer press release reporting 90% efficacy and increased discussion on vaccine misinformation. We observed an association between Johnson and Johnson temporarily halting its vaccine trials and reduced misinformation. We found that information skeptical of vaccination was first posted in a subreddit (r/Coronavirus) which favored accurate information and then reposted in subreddits associated with antivaccine beliefs and conspiracy theories (e.g. conspiracy, NoNewNormal). CONCLUSIONS: Our findings can inform the development of interventions where individuals determine the accuracy of vaccine information, and communications campaigns to improve COVID-19 vaccine perceptions, early in the vaccine timeline. Such efforts can increase individual- and population-level awareness of accurate and scientifically sound information regarding vaccines and thereby improve attitudes about vaccines, especially in the early phases of vaccine roll-out. Further research is needed to understand how social media can contribute to COVID-19 vaccination services.

COVID-19 , Social Media , Vaccines , COVID-19/prevention & control , COVID-19 Vaccines , Humans , SARS-CoV-2
JMIR Ment Health ; 8(3): e26589, 2021 Mar 19.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1160624


BACKGROUND: Antidepressants are known to show heterogeneous effects across individuals and conditions, posing challenges to understanding their efficacy in mental health treatment. Social media platforms enable individuals to share their day-to-day concerns with others and thereby can function as unobtrusive, large-scale, and naturalistic data sources to study the longitudinal behavior of individuals taking antidepressants. OBJECTIVE: We aim to understand the side effects of antidepressants from naturalistic expressions of individuals on social media. METHODS: On a large-scale Twitter data set of individuals who self-reported using antidepressants, a quasi-experimental study using unsupervised language analysis was conducted to extract keywords that distinguish individuals who improved and who did not improve following the use of antidepressants. The net data set consists of over 8 million Twitter posts made by over 300,000 users in a 4-year period between January 1, 2014, and February 15, 2018. RESULTS: Five major side effects of antidepressants were studied: sleep, weight, eating, pain, and sexual issues. Social media language revealed keywords related to these side effects. In particular, antidepressants were found to show a spectrum of effects from decrease to increase in each of these side effects. CONCLUSIONS: This work enhances the understanding of the side effects of antidepressants by identifying distinct linguistic markers in the longitudinal social media data of individuals showing the most and least improvement following the self-reported intake of antidepressants. One implication of this work concerns the potential of social media data as an effective means to support digital pharmacovigilance and digital therapeutics. These results can inform clinicians in tailoring their discussion and assessment of side effects and inform patients about what to potentially expect and what may or may not be within the realm of normal aftereffects of antidepressants.

J Med Internet Res ; 22(11): e22600, 2020 11 24.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-969095


BACKGROUND: The COVID-19 pandemic has caused several disruptions in personal and collective lives worldwide. The uncertainties surrounding the pandemic have also led to multifaceted mental health concerns, which can be exacerbated with precautionary measures such as social distancing and self-quarantining, as well as societal impacts such as economic downturn and job loss. Despite noting this as a "mental health tsunami", the psychological effects of the COVID-19 crisis remain unexplored at scale. Consequently, public health stakeholders are currently limited in identifying ways to provide timely and tailored support during these circumstances. OBJECTIVE: Our study aims to provide insights regarding people's psychosocial concerns during the COVID-19 pandemic by leveraging social media data. We aim to study the temporal and linguistic changes in symptomatic mental health and support expressions in the pandemic context. METHODS: We obtained about 60 million Twitter streaming posts originating from the United States from March 24 to May 24, 2020, and compared these with about 40 million posts from a comparable period in 2019 to attribute the effect of COVID-19 on people's social media self-disclosure. Using these data sets, we studied people's self-disclosure on social media in terms of symptomatic mental health concerns and expressions of support. We employed transfer learning classifiers that identified the social media language indicative of mental health outcomes (anxiety, depression, stress, and suicidal ideation) and support (emotional and informational support). We then examined the changes in psychosocial expressions over time and language, comparing the 2020 and 2019 data sets. RESULTS: We found that all of the examined psychosocial expressions have significantly increased during the COVID-19 crisis-mental health symptomatic expressions have increased by about 14%, and support expressions have increased by about 5%, both thematically related to COVID-19. We also observed a steady decline and eventual plateauing in these expressions during the COVID-19 pandemic, which may have been due to habituation or due to supportive policy measures enacted during this period. Our language analyses highlighted that people express concerns that are specific to and contextually related to the COVID-19 crisis. CONCLUSIONS: We studied the psychosocial effects of the COVID-19 crisis by using social media data from 2020, finding that people's mental health symptomatic and support expressions significantly increased during the COVID-19 period as compared to similar data from 2019. However, this effect gradually lessened over time, suggesting that people adapted to the circumstances and their "new normal." Our linguistic analyses revealed that people expressed mental health concerns regarding personal and professional challenges, health care and precautionary measures, and pandemic-related awareness. This study shows the potential to provide insights to mental health care and stakeholders and policy makers in planning and implementing measures to mitigate mental health risks amid the health crisis.

COVID-19/psychology , Psychology/methods , Social Media , Humans , Non-Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification