A scoping review of the use of Twitter for public health research

Osagioduwa Edo-Osagie, Beatriz De La Iglesia, Iain Lake, Obaghe Edeghere

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

76 Citations (Scopus)
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Public health practitioners and researchers have used traditional medical databases to study and understand public health for a long time. Recently, social media data, particularly Twitter, has seen some use for public health purposes. Every large technological development in history has had an impact on the behaviour of society. The advent of the internet and social media is no different. Social media creates public streams of communication, and scientists are starting to understand that such data can provide some level of access into the people’s opinions and situations. As such, this paper aims to review and synthesize the literature on Twitter applications for public health, highlighting current re- search and products in practice. A scoping review methodology was employed and four leading health, computer science and cross-disciplinary databases were searched. A total of 755 articles were retreived, 92 of which met the criteria for review. From the reviewed literature, six domains for the application of Twit- ter to public health were identified: (i) Surveillance; (ii) Event Detection; (iii) Pharmacovigilance; (iv) Forecasting; (v) Disease Tracking; and (vi) Geographic Identification. From our review, we were able to obtain a clear picture of the use of Twitter for public health. We gained insights into interesting observa- tions such as how the popularity of different domains changed with time, the diseases and conditions studied and the different approaches to understanding each disease, which algorithms and techniques were popular with each domain, and more.
Original languageEnglish
Article number103770
JournalComputers in Biology and Medicine
Early online date16 May 2020
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2020


  • Public Health
  • Syndromic Surveillance
  • Pharmacovigilance
  • Event Forecasting
  • Disease Tracking
  • Disease tracking
  • Event forecasting
  • Syndromic surveillance
  • Public health

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