Special Issue "Social Media and Public Health: Opportunities and Challenges"

A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601). This special issue belongs to the section "Health Communication".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 July 2020.

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Wasim Ahmed
Website
Guest Editor
Department of Marketing, Operations and Systems, Newcastle Univeristy Business School, NE1 7RU, UK
Interests: public health and health informatics
Dr. Josep Vidal-Alaball
Website
Guest Editor
Institut Català de la Salut / University of Vic–Central University of Catalonia, Spain
Interests: social media; public health; telemedicine

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

We are organising a Special Issue on the use of social media within public health in the journal International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. This journal is scientific and peer-reviewed, and publishes articles and communications in the interdisciplinary area of environmental health sciences and public health. For detailed information on the journal, we refer you to https://www.mdpi.com/journal/ijerph.

We are living in an information age, with more user-generated data being generated today than ever before with the widespread popularity of social media. Social media platforms provide the ability to extract intelligence for public health purposes. This can range from using social media to track the spread of diseases to the opinion mining of public views and opinions.

Social media has the potential to provide rapid insights into unfolding public health emergencies such as infectious disease outbreaks. They can also be drawn upon for rapid, survey-based insights into various health topics. Social media has also begun to be utilised by medical professionals for the purposes of sharing scholarly works, international collaboration, and engaging in policy debates.

A benefit of social media platforms for gaining insight into health is that they have the ability to capture unfiltered public opinion in large volumes, avoiding potential biases introduced by surveys or interviews. Social media platforms can also be utilised to pilot surveys, for instance, though the use of Twitter polls.

Social media data have also been drawn upon in medical emergencies and crisis situations as a public health surveillance tool. A number of software and online tools also exist that have been developed specifically to aide public health research utilising social media data. In recent years, ethical issues of retrieving and analysing data have also arisen.

Henceforth, we invite researchers who are working in the broad areas of social media and health to submit their research on these issues for publication in this Special Issue.

This Special Issue is open to any submission related to social media and public health, and the keywords provide some examples of various possibilities.

Dr. Wasim Ahmed
Dr. Josep Vidal-Alaball
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Social media
  • Public health
  • Disease surveillance
  • Health promotion
  • E-health
  • Telehealth
  • Ethics
  • Health informatics

Published Papers (9 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
Environmental and Patient Impact of Applying a Point-of-Care Ultrasound Model in Primary Care: Rural vs. Urban Centres
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(9), 3333; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17093333 - 11 May 2020
Abstract
Motor vehicles are a major contributor to air pollution, and the exposure to this human-caused air pollution can lead to harmful health effects. This study evaluates the impact of the provision of point-of-care ultrasounds (POCUS) by primary care (PC) to avoid the patient’s [...] Read more.
Motor vehicles are a major contributor to air pollution, and the exposure to this human-caused air pollution can lead to harmful health effects. This study evaluates the impact of the provision of point-of-care ultrasounds (POCUS) by primary care (PC) to avoid the patient’s need to travel to a specialized service. The study estimates the costs and air pollution avoided during 2019. The results confirm that performing this ultrasound at the point of care reduces the emission of 61.4 gr of carbon monoxide, 14.8 gr of nitric oxide and 2.7 gr of sulfur dioxide on each trip. During the study, an average of 17.8 km, 21.4 min per trip and almost 2000 L of fuel consumed in a year were avoided. Performing POCUS from PC reduces fuel consumption and the emission of air pollutants and also saves time and money. Furthermore, only 0.3% of the scans had to be repeated by radiologists. However, more studies with more participants need to be done to calculate the exact impact that these pollution reductions will have on human health. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social Media and Public Health: Opportunities and Challenges)
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Open AccessArticle
The Antecedents of Poor Doctor-Patient Relationship in Mobile Consultation: A Perspective from Computer-Mediated Communication
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(7), 2579; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17072579 - 09 Apr 2020
Abstract
This study aims to understand the underlying reasons for poor doctor-patient relationships (DPR). While extant studies on antecedents of poor DPR mainly focus on the offline context and often adopt the patients’ perspective, this work focuses on the mobile context and take both [...] Read more.
This study aims to understand the underlying reasons for poor doctor-patient relationships (DPR). While extant studies on antecedents of poor DPR mainly focus on the offline context and often adopt the patients’ perspective, this work focuses on the mobile context and take both doctors’ and mobile consultation users’ perspectives into consideration. To fulfill this purpose, we first construct a theoretical framework based on the Computer-Mediated Communication (CMC) literature. Then we coded 592 doctor-user communication records to validate and elaborate the proposed theoretical model. This work reveals that characteristics of mobile technologies pose potential challenges on both doctors’ and patients’ information providing, informative interpreting, and relationship maintaining behaviors, resulting in 10 and 6 types of inappropriate behaviors of doctors and users, respectively, that trigger poor DPR in the mobile context. The findings enrich the research on online DPR and provide insights for improving DPR in the mobile context. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social Media and Public Health: Opportunities and Challenges)
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Open AccessArticle
Contextualising the 2019 E-Cigarette Health Scare: Insights from Twitter
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(7), 2236; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17072236 - 26 Mar 2020
Cited by 2
Abstract
A health scare can be described as a campaign that attempts to alert the public of a particular substance or activity that can lead to a negative effect on health. A recent health scare to emerge relates to the health hazards associated with [...] Read more.
A health scare can be described as a campaign that attempts to alert the public of a particular substance or activity that can lead to a negative effect on health. A recent health scare to emerge relates to the health hazards associated with the use of e-cigarettes, which has caused widespread debate, which peaked towards the end of 2019. Health scares need to be studied in the context in which they occur, and one method of studying them is through social media. This paper identifies two key topics of discussion on Twitter, which consisted of pro-vaping and anti-vaping views. The paper then identifies influential users, frequently occurring words, hashtags, and websites related to this time period in order to gain insight into e-cigarette perceptions. The paper then reviews current scientific evidence and develops a flowchart for the general public, which can be used to for public reassurance and guidance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social Media and Public Health: Opportunities and Challenges)
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Open AccessArticle
Validation of a Short Questionnaire to Assess Healthcare Professionals’ Perceptions of Asynchronous Telemedicine Services: The Catalan Version of the Health Optimum Telemedicine Acceptance Questionnaire
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(7), 2202; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17072202 - 25 Mar 2020
Abstract
Telemedicine is both effective and able to provide efficient care at a lower cost. It also enjoys a high degree of acceptance among users. The Technology Acceptance Model proposed is based on the two main concepts of ease of use and perceived usefulness [...] Read more.
Telemedicine is both effective and able to provide efficient care at a lower cost. It also enjoys a high degree of acceptance among users. The Technology Acceptance Model proposed is based on the two main concepts of ease of use and perceived usefulness and is comprised of three dimensions: the individual context, the technological context and the implementation or organizational context. At present, no short, validated questionnaire exists in Catalonia to evaluate the acceptance of telemedicine services amongst healthcare professionals using a technology acceptance model. This article aims to statistically validate the Catalan version of the EU project Health Optimum telemedicine acceptance questionnaire. The study included the following phases: adaptation and translation of the questionnaire into Catalan and psychometric validation with construct (exploratory factor analysis), consistency (Cronbach’s alpha) and stability (test–retest) analysis. After deleting incomplete responses, calculations were made using 33 participants. The internal consistency measured with the Cronbach’s alpha coefficient was good with an alpha coefficient of 0.84 (95%, CI: 0.79–0.84). The intraclass correlation coefficient was 0.93 (95% CI: 0.852–0.964). The Kaiser–Meyer–Olkin test of sampling showed to be adequate (KMO = 0.818) and the Bartlett test of sphericity was significant (Chi-square 424.188; gl = 28; p < 0.001). The questionnaire had two dimensions which accounted for 61.2% of the total variance: quality and technical difficulties relating to telemedicine. The findings of this study suggest that the validated questionnaire has robust statistical features that make it a good predictive model of healthcare professional’s satisfaction with telemedicine programs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social Media and Public Health: Opportunities and Challenges)
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Open AccessArticle
A Cost-Minimization Analysis of a Medical Record-based, Store and Forward and Provider-to-provider Telemedicine Compared to Usual Care in Catalonia: More Agile and Efficient, Especially for Users
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(6), 2008; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17062008 - 18 Mar 2020
Cited by 2
Abstract
Background: Telemedicine (interconsultation between primary and hospital care teams) has been operating in the counties of Central Catalonia Bages, Moianès and Berguedà since 2011, specializing in teledermatology, teleulcers, teleophthalmology and teleaudiometries. For the period until the end of 2019, a total of 52,198 [...] Read more.
Background: Telemedicine (interconsultation between primary and hospital care teams) has been operating in the counties of Central Catalonia Bages, Moianès and Berguedà since 2011, specializing in teledermatology, teleulcers, teleophthalmology and teleaudiometries. For the period until the end of 2019, a total of 52,198 visits were recorded. Objective: To analyze the differential costs between telemedicine and usual care in a semi-urban environment. Methodology: A cost-minimization evaluation, including direct and indirect costs from a societal perspective, distinguishing healthcare and user’s costs, was carried out over a three-month period. Results: Telemedicine saved € 780,397 over the period analyzed. A differential cost favorable to telemedicine of about € 15 per visit was observed, with the patient being the largest beneficiary of this saving (by 85%) in terms of shorter waiting times and travel costs. From the healthcare system perspective, moving the time spent in a hospital care consultation to primary care is efficient in terms of the total time devoted per patient. In social terms and in this context, telemedicine is more efficient than usual care. Conclusion: Allowing users to save time in terms of consultation and travel is the main driver of interconsultation between primary and hospital care savings in a semi-urban context. The telemedicine service is also economically favorable for the healthcare system, enabling it to provide a more agile service, which also benefits healthcare professionals. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social Media and Public Health: Opportunities and Challenges)
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Open AccessArticle
Health Advertising on Short-Video Social Media: A Study on User Attitudes Based on the Extended Technology Acceptance Model
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(5), 1501; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17051501 - 26 Feb 2020
Abstract
The rapid development of short-video social network platforms provides us with an opportunity to conduct health-related advertising and recommendation. However, so far, there are no empirical evidence on whether users are willing to accept health-related short-video advertisements. Here, acceptance refers to purchase intention, [...] Read more.
The rapid development of short-video social network platforms provides us with an opportunity to conduct health-related advertising and recommendation. However, so far, there are no empirical evidence on whether users are willing to accept health-related short-video advertisements. Here, acceptance refers to purchase intention, meaning that users will read short-video ads, share ads with others, or even open the product link embedded in ads to purchase the product. In this paper, we make the first attempt to model and quantify user acceptance of health-related short-video advertisements. Particularly, we propose a new research model that enhances the Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) with two new designs. First, we propose four new antecedents including social interaction, intrusiveness, informativeness, and relevance into the original TAM to reflect the features of short-video social networks. Second, we introduce two mediator variables including perceived usefulness and attitude so that we can better study how different factors affect user acceptance of health-related short-video ads. We perform a survey on the Internet and conduct an empirical analysis of the surveyed data. The results show that the four antecedents as well as the perceived ease of use have significant influences on perceived usefulness, attitude, and purchase intention. Further, perceived usefulness plays a valid mediating role in attitude and purchase intention. We also found that users’ perceived ease of use on health-related short-video ads cannot significantly predict users’ attitudes toward ads. This is a new finding in social media-oriented ads. Finally, we integrate the empirical findings and present reasonable suggestions for advertisers and marketers to promote health-related short-video ads. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social Media and Public Health: Opportunities and Challenges)
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Open AccessArticle
Teleconsultations between Patients and Healthcare Professionals in Primary Care in Catalonia: The Evaluation of Text Classification Algorithms Using Supervised Machine Learning
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(3), 1093; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17031093 - 09 Feb 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Background: The primary care service in Catalonia has operated an asynchronous teleconsulting service between GPs and patients since 2015 (eConsulta), which has generated some 500,000 messages. New developments in big data analysis tools, particularly those involving natural language, can be used to [...] Read more.
Background: The primary care service in Catalonia has operated an asynchronous teleconsulting service between GPs and patients since 2015 (eConsulta), which has generated some 500,000 messages. New developments in big data analysis tools, particularly those involving natural language, can be used to accurately and systematically evaluate the impact of the service. Objective: The study was intended to assess the predictive potential of eConsulta messages through different combinations of vector representation of text and machine learning algorithms and to evaluate their performance. Methodology: Twenty machine learning algorithms (based on five types of algorithms and four text representation techniques) were trained using a sample of 3559 messages (169,102 words) corresponding to 2268 teleconsultations (1.57 messages per teleconsultation) in order to predict the three variables of interest (avoiding the need for a face-to-face visit, increased demand and type of use of the teleconsultation). The performance of the various combinations was measured in terms of precision, sensitivity, F-value and the ROC curve. Results: The best-trained algorithms are generally effective, proving themselves to be more robust when approximating the two binary variables “avoiding the need of a face-to-face visit” and “increased demand” (precision = 0.98 and 0.97, respectively) rather than the variable “type of query” (precision = 0.48). Conclusion: To the best of our knowledge, this study is the first to investigate a machine learning strategy for text classification using primary care teleconsultation datasets. The study illustrates the possible capacities of text analysis using artificial intelligence. The development of a robust text classification tool could be feasible by validating it with more data, making it potentially more useful for decision support for health professionals. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social Media and Public Health: Opportunities and Challenges)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle
Impact of a Telemedicine Program on the Reduction in the Emission of Atmospheric Pollutants and Journeys by Road
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(22), 4366; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16224366 - 08 Nov 2019
Cited by 4
Abstract
This retrospective study evaluates the effect of a telemedicine program developed in the central Catalan region in lowering the environmental footprint by reducing the emission of atmospheric pollutants, thanks to a reduction in the number of hospital visits involving journeys by road. Between [...] Read more.
This retrospective study evaluates the effect of a telemedicine program developed in the central Catalan region in lowering the environmental footprint by reducing the emission of atmospheric pollutants, thanks to a reduction in the number of hospital visits involving journeys by road. Between January 2018 and June 2019, a total of 12,322 referrals were made to telemedicine services in the primary care centers, avoiding a total of 9034 face-to-face visits. In total, the distance saved was 192,682 km, with a total travel time saving of 3779 h and a total fuel reduction of 11,754 L with an associated cost of €15,664. This represents an average reduction of 3248.3 g of carbon dioxide, 4.05 g of carbon monoxide, 4.86 g of nitric oxide and 3.2 g of sulphur dioxide. This study confirms that telemedicine reduces the environmental impact of atmospheric pollutants emitted by vehicles by reducing the number of journeys made for face-to-face visits, and thus contributing to environmental sustainability. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social Media and Public Health: Opportunities and Challenges)
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Open AccessArticle
Social Media, Thin-Ideal, Body Dissatisfaction and Disordered Eating Attitudes: An Exploratory Analysis
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(21), 4177; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16214177 - 29 Oct 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Disordered eating attitudes are rapidly increasing, especially among young women in their twenties. These disordered behaviours result from the interaction of several factors, including beauty ideals. A significant factor is social media, by which the unrealistic beauty ideals are popularized and may lead [...] Read more.
Disordered eating attitudes are rapidly increasing, especially among young women in their twenties. These disordered behaviours result from the interaction of several factors, including beauty ideals. A significant factor is social media, by which the unrealistic beauty ideals are popularized and may lead to these behaviours. The objectives of this study were, first, to determine the relationship between disordered eating behaviours among female university students and sociocultural factors, such as the use of social network sites, beauty ideals, body satisfaction, body image and the body image desired to achieve and, second, to determine whether there is a sensitive relationship between disordered eating attitudes, addiction to social networks, and testosterone levels as a biological factor. The data (N = 168) was obtained using validated surveys (EAT-26, BSQ, CIPE-a, SNSA) and indirect measures of prenatal testosterone. The data was analysed using chi-square, Student’s t-test, correlation tests and logistic regression tests. The results showed that disordered eating attitudes were linked to self-esteem (p < 0.001), body image (p < 0.001), body desired to achieve (p < 0.001), the use of social media (p < 0.001) and prenatal testosterone (p < 0.01). The findings presented in this study suggest a relationship between body image, body concerns, body dissatisfaction, and disordered eating attitudes among college women. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social Media and Public Health: Opportunities and Challenges)
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