More than half of 5,000 patients in a new study were on Facebook or Twitter, and of those patients 71 percent were comfortable with doctors using their social media accounts as comparison to their health records, according to DOTmed HCB News.
The data compiled from researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania was published in the journal BMJ Quality & Safety. The researchers used the data collected to build a language databank that could link social media content to health effects, according to DOTmed.
“We don’t often think of our social media content as data, but the language we use and the information we post may offer valuable insights into the relationship between our everyday lives and our health,” noted Dr. Raina M. Merchant, senior author of the study, director of the Social Media and Health Innovation Lab and assistant professor of Emergency Medicine at Penn Medicine.
The study involved volunteer emergency room patients and a language database comprised of more than 1.4 million Facebook posts and tweets as far back as 2009. The data, which contained more than 12 million words, helped researchers find correlations between online content and health, according to DOTmed.
The information gathered from the post varied with some posts specifically related to medical habits, such as “I forgot to take my water pill for my heart failure today.” Other posts just included photos of salty foods. The study also showed people who had a diagnosis recorded in their electronic medical record were more likely to use medical terms about their diagnosis on those posts.