Researchers from Harvard and Stanford have published a paper in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR) that explores how much public data exists on Facebook about several popular health conditions.
The study authors, who are from Partners HealthCare’s Center for Connected Health, Harvard Medical School, and Stanford University School of Medicine, first identified the 20 most searched health terms on Google. The terms they discovered included ‘cancer’, ‘diabetes’, ‘stomach’, ‘herpes’, ‘back pain’, ‘human immunodeficiency virus’ (HIV), ‘blood pressure’, ‘thyroid’, ‘breast cancer’, ‘arthritis’, ‘diarrhea’, and ‘stroke’.
The team chose Facebook because a Pew research project found that, in general, 71 percent of online adults use Facebook, while only 17 percent use Instagram, 21 percent use Twitter, and 22 percent use LinkedIn.
“We found that a search of Facebook for common health conditions provided a large number of irrelevant pages,” the researchers said in the paper. “In addition, most pages were devoted to marketing/promotion and relatively few pages were devoted to social support. Social support was especially underrepresented in pages for health conditions for communicable diseases.” Keep reading>>