Computing Veracity – the Fourth Challenge of Big Data

Exploring the association between legal highs in social media and electronic health records

Collaboration between King’s College London, the South London and Maudsley NHS Trust and the University of Sheffield has produced a recently published paper in European Psychiatry, titled ‘Novel psychoactive substances: an investigation of temporal trends in social media and electronic health records’. The paper explores the relationship between the emergence of legal highs in social media and their appearance in an electronic mental health database. This unique comparison of results from public health monitoring with data arising from the clinical record highlighted some very interesting observations.

Online information-seeking and -sharing behaviour and results from clinical communication platforms appear largely comparable. However, using data from online sources to explore behavioural trends might not be suitable for health issues which are frequently undisclosed. Social media may also describe a mediated, latent version of real-world activities and, where these represent key events, patients and healthcare professionals are very likely to become exposed to them earlier on in mainstream media. Overall, trends in online chatter place clinicians at a great position to collect information from a number of sources and pave the way for an early, automatic warning system in public health monitoring.

You can peruse our paper here:

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