Monday, November 3, 2014

Research Notes: Spotlight on Social Media and Angelina Jolie (Again)

Here are the top public health and popular culture stories I'm reading this week:

Authors: Robin H. Juthe MPH, Amber Zaharchuk MBA & Catharine Wang PhD, MSc

Genetics in Medicine (2014) doi:10.1038/gim.2014.141
Published online October 23, 2014

The study found huge spikes in Internet traffic on selected National Cancer Institute (NCI) sites in the immediate aftermath of Angelina’s May 14, 2013 disclosure in the New York Times that she has a BRCA1 mutation and underwent a mastectomy. 

I first wrote about Angelina Jolie in May 2013 when she penned the op-ed. At the time I posed the following question to my readers, "What (other) public health implications could result from Angelina Jolie's disclosure in today's New York Times?" As you can imagine I'm thrilled to see that formal research was conducted to examine various outcomes that followed her writing. In a December 2013 Research Notes post, I highlighted another research study that surveyed the public to document their understanding, reactions, perceptions, and subsequent health-related actions following the media coverage of Angelina's story.

Authors: Jenine K Harris, PhD;  Sarah Moreland-Russell, PhD;  Bechara Choucair, MD;  Raed Mansour, MS;  Mackenzie Staub; Kendall Simmons

Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR) (2014)
DOI: 10.2196/jmir.3622
Published in Vol 16, No 10, online on October 16, 2014

Researchers analyzed a "Twitter Bomb"- more than 600 tweets in one week against the Chicago proposal regarding local regulation of electronic cigarettes. Most against the regulation were from outside the Chicago area, while Twitter users from Chicago were significantly more likely to tweet in support of the policy. About 14 percent of the tweets used an account or included elements consistent with “astroturfing,” a strategy used to promote a false sense of consensus. 

I highly recommend reading this innovative study, as its methods and findings can help public health organizations to anticipate, recognize, and respond to coordinated social media campaigns.

What are you reading this week?
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