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Enhancing Tobacco Surveillance through Online Monitoring

Principal Investigator: Nabarun Dasgupta and Katherine Margolis

Funding Mechanism: Broad Agency Announcement (BAA)

ID number: HHSF223201400184C

Award Date: 9/30/2014

Institution: Epidemico


Epidemico, a research and informatics company, has developed a social media monitoring tool (MedWatcher Social) that mines online sources (e.g., Twitter, Facebook, online forums, blogs, electronic news sites, Internet searches) for information that can be used for a wide range of activities, including supporting drug safety surveillance and tracking disease outbreaks.  This project will expand that monitoring tool to provide new information about tobacco use, perceptions, attitudes and adverse health experiences reported by tobacco product users. Toward that end, Epidemico will develop unique acquisition and storage technology, mapping strategies, and algorithms to gather and classify data in social media, and will develop methods for analyzing and presenting this data. Research areas that may be explored include (1) examining time-related patterns in the volume of social media posts according to tobacco product type, brand, and subbrand; (2) describing social media posts related to the adverse health experiences of users of new products; and (3) describing feelings (positive/negative/neutral) associated with social media posts, including how feelings vary across tobacco product types, brands and subbrands. This project is intended to complement traditional methods of tobacco monitoring and surveillance by providing additional sources of information on tobacco use and related behaviors.