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IADR/AADR publish study on use of Twitter for public health surveillance of dental pain
Date:7/18/2011

Alexandria, VA, USA The microblogging service Twitter is a new means for the public to communicate health concerns and could afford health care professionals new ways to communicate with patients. With the growing ubiquity of user-generated online content via social networking Web sites such as Twitter, it is clear we are experiencing a revolution in communication and information sharing. In a study titled "Public Health Surveillance of Dental Pain via Twitter," published in the Journal of Dental Researchthe official publication of the International and American Associations for Dental Research (IADR/AADR), researchers demonstrated that Twitter users are already extensively sharing their experiences of toothache and seeking advice from other users. Researchers Natalie Heaivilin, Barbara Gerbert, Jens Page and Jennifer Gibbs all from the University of California San Francisco (UCSF), Preventive and Restorative Dental Sciences, authored this study.

The researchers investigated the content of Twitter posts meeting search criteria relating to dental pain. A set of 1,000 tweets was randomly selected from 4,859 tweets over seven nonconsecutive days. The content was coded using pre-established, non-mutually exclusive categories, including the experience of dental pain, actions taken or contemplated in response to a toothache, impact on daily life and advice sought from the Twitter community.

After excluding ambiguous tweets, spam and repeat users, 772 tweets were analyzed and frequencies calculated. Of those tweets, 83% were primarily categorized as a general statement of dental pain, 22% as an action taken or contemplated, and 15% as describing an impact on daily activities. Among the actions taken or contemplated, 44% reported seeing a dentist, 43% took an analgesic or antibiotic medication and 14% actively sought advice from the Twitter community.

This research was funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health, the Na
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Contact: Ingrid L. Thomas
ithomas@iadr.org
703-299-8084
International & American Associations for Dental Research
Source:Eurekalert

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