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Clinicians’ Reports in Electronic Health Records Versus Patients’ Concerns in Social Media: A Pilot Study of Adverse Drug Reactions of Aspirin and Atorvastatin

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Large databases of clinician reported (e.g., allergy repositories) and patient reported (e.g., social media) adverse drug reactions (ADRs) exist; however, whether patients and clinicians report the same concerns is not clear.


Our objective was to compare electronic health record data and social media data to better understand differences and similarities between clinician-reported ADRs and patients’ concerns regarding aspirin and atorvastatin.


This pilot study explored a large repository of electronic health record data and social media data for clinician-reported ADRs and patients concerns for two common medications: aspirin (n = 31,817 ADRs accessible in clinical data; n = 19,186 potential ADRs accessible in social media data) and atorvastatin (n = 15,047 ADRs accessible in clinical data; n = 23,408 potential ADRs accessible in social media data).


We found that the most frequently reported ADRs matched the most frequent patients’ concerns. However, several less frequently reported reactions were more prevalent on social media (i.e., aspirin-induced hypoglycemia was discussed only on social media). Overall, we found a relatively strong positive and statistically significant correlation between the frequency ranking of reactions and patients’ concerns for atorvastatin (Pearson’s r = 0.61, p < 0.001) but not for aspirin (Pearson’s r = 0.1, p = 0.69).


Future studies should develop further natural language methods for a more detailed data analysis (i.e., identifying causality and temporal aspects in the social media data).

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The authors thank Treato Ltd. for their kind assistance and collaboration on this study (no financial support was received from the company).

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Correspondence to Maxim Topaz.

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This study was funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), Grant #1R01HS022728-01.

Conflict of interest

Maxim Topaz, Kenneth Lai, Neil Dhopeshwarkar, Diane Seger, Ronen Rozenblum, Foster Goss, and Li Zhou report no conflicts of interest. Roee Sa’adon is a current employee of Treato Ltd., and he was involved in data cleaning and transfers but not in other data analysis.

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Topaz, M., Lai, K., Dhopeshwarkar, N. et al. Clinicians’ Reports in Electronic Health Records Versus Patients’ Concerns in Social Media: A Pilot Study of Adverse Drug Reactions of Aspirin and Atorvastatin. Drug Saf 39, 241–250 (2016).

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