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Misinformation About Antibiotics Can Travel to Large Audience Via Twitter: Study
Date:3/30/2010

miliarity with social networking media services, such as Twitter. They add that such services can potentially be used to gather important real-time health data and may provide a venue to identify potential misuse or misunderstanding of antibiotics, promote positive behavior change, and disseminate valid information.

Using content analysis of 52,153 Twitter status updates (“tweets”) mentioning antibiotics between March 13, 2009, and July 31, 2009, researchers categorized each tweet into one of 11 groups: general use, advice/information, side effects/negative reactions, diagnosis, resistance, misunderstanding and/or misuse, positive reactions, animals, wanting/needing, cost and other.

Once categories were established, 1,000 status updates were selected randomly from the complete list of 52,153 tweets and analyzed. The full list of tweets was further explored for cases of misunderstanding or abuse with a search for the following combinations: “flu + antibiotic(s),” “cold + antibiotic(s),” “leftover + antibiotic(s),” “share + antibiotic(s),” and “extra + antibiotic(s)”.

The most common category was “general use,” including a range of updates about taking antibiotics, often simply mentioning the number of days remaining on a prescription and a desire that the antibiotics begin helping soon. The second most common category was “advice and information.” Some updates included the transfer of personal advice or information, such as “get antibiotics if its [sic serious” or “Garlic generally good, but not specific to strep…” The third most prevalent category was “side effects/ negative reactions,” which included a variety of complaints and side effects from taking the medication. Examples of side effects ranged from the general, such as, “those antibiotics made me want to die,” to the more specific, &
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