How Twitter Helps in Gauging Heart Disease?
Social media and health! Is there a connection? Yes, there is and that too a strong one! The famous social media site Twitter serves as an indicator of the psychological well being of a community and can also predict the rates of heart disease at the county level. I am not joking! This fact is based on the new research that has been published in Psychological Science.
The study- Heart disease and tweets
In studies that were done previously, researchers identified several factors that contributed to the risk if heart trouble and that included psychological factors such as stress and behavioral factors like smoking. Research done by the University of Pennsylvania indicates that twitter is able to capture more information of the risk of heart disease than the traditional factors. This is because it also characterizes the community’s psychological atmosphere.
The study has found that negative emotions like stress, anger and fatigue expressed in tweets by people in a given geographical location are linked to higher risk of heart disease in that location. On the other hand, positive emotions such as optimism and excitement expressed in tweets were linked with a lower risk.
How useful twitter has been?
Twitter is being looked upon as a window of the mental state of the people living in one geographical location. It is a good tool for epidemiology. The data that they get from twitter is difficult to get through surveys. Moreover, surveys are expensive, have limitations and are also time consuming. Surveys do not provide the psychological richness that is obtained through the language used by people when they vent out their emotions on twitter.
There have been connections between language used and emotional states of people in previous studies. The scientists wanted to find an evidence to link emotional states and physical outcomes.
State of mind is known to have an effect on coronary heart disease. For instance, depression and hostility have been linked with heart disease. Negative emotions can trigger behavioural and social responses too, you will seek refuge in alcohol, eat poorly and live in isolation. This can indirectly lead to heart disease.
Public health officials in the US meticulously keep a track of deaths due to heart disease as it is a common reason of early mortality. They also collect data about the risk factors like obesity, high blood pressure, smoking and lack of exercise. The research team matched this physical data with the digital version they made from twitter.
Using tweets made between 2009 and 2010, the research scientists did their job. According to researchers, there was a strong correlation between heart disease mortality and negative emotion language. Words such as ‘hate’ have a deep connection with heart disease. On one hand where negative emotion words are linked to heart disease, positive emotion language have shown signs of being protective against heart disease. Positive words filled with optimism like ‘wonderful’ and ‘friends’ have shown positive results.
Moving away from the study…
Moving away from the study, isn’t it relaxing to vent out your emotions at a social media site? When you tweet what you feel you are letting everybody know about what is going on in your mind. People who tweet using a language filled with negative emotions are those who have a stressed life. And everyone knows that stress is not good for the heart. On the other hand, when people post tweets that have positive emotions in them you know they are the blessed souls who know to be happy and keep others happy around them too. Happiness protects one from heart disease or any other disease for that matter. Being happy is good for your overall well-being.
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