How to Improve Public Health via Mining Social Media Platforms: A Case Study of Human Papillomaviruses (HPV)



Since its inception, the use and impact of social media have occurred with incredible speed. Over the last decade, social media has also become a major source of health-related information and discussions, which offers researches a great opportunity to (1) increase the reach and effectiveness of health education, communication, and surveillance and (2) study public health issues with unique insights that cannot be captured by traditional survey methods. Vaccination is a good example in which there are existing controversies and public debate. And social media is a key source of misinformation about vaccines including some of the more recent and controversial vaccines on the market that prevent Human Papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is the most common sexually transmitted disease in the USA, while HPV vaccine is available to help prevent infections with HPV. However, the HPV vaccination coverage rate remains low and varies greatly by state in the USA. To increase HPV vaccination initiation and coverage, we first need to understand the behavioral factors that influence an individual’s decision-making process regarding HPV vaccination. Recognized by Integrated Behavior Model (IBM), individuals’ intention is the most important determinant of their health behaviors, while behavior intention is subsequently determined by constructs such as attitude and perceived norms. Social media offers a complementary data source that can be used to monitor public’s health communication in real time to better understand these behavioral factors that affect their decision-making processes about HPV vaccination. Overall, this chapter aims to provide readers with an overview of studies using the social media platform to improve public health, especially those related to the HPV. We also present a case study that aims to test the feasibility of mapping Twitter data to behavioral factors compared with results obtained from a national representative survey.


Social media Public health Twitter Human papillomavirus vaccine Topic modeling Integrated Behavior Model 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Health Outcomes and Biomedical Informatics, College of MedicineUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA
  2. 2.Behavioral Research Program, Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences, National Cancer InstituteRockvilleUSA
  3. 3.School of Biomedical InformaticsThe University of Texas Health Science Center at HoustonHoustonUSA
  4. 4.Centre for Health Informatics, Australian Institute of Health InnovationMacquarie UniversitySydneyAustralia
  5. 5.Department of Health Services ResearchManagement and Policy, University of FloridaGainesvilleUSA

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