Which websites people prefer to find information about Viagra and its benefits? These are general social networking sites Twitter
, research shows.
For information on conditions like sleep disorder or depression, people go to specialised health social networks such as WebMD or drugs.com.
Based on an analysis of more than one million drug-related posts, a team of researchers from University of California have compiled this data that can help health care providers recommend social network sites to their patients or to create new forums for particular health conditions or drugs.
"Posts about psycho-therapeutic agents such as Abilify and Cymbalta are about five times more common on health social networks while posts about Viagra and Cialis are 16 times more common in general social networks," explained Vagelis Hristidis, an associate professor of computer science and engineering at University of California.
According to him, posts to health social networks such as Web MD and drugs.com were about twice as likely to have negative sentiment compared to those in general social networks such as Twitter and Google+.
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The researchers obtained a list of the 200 most commonly prescribed drugs and narrowed it down to 122 by eliminating such things as variants of the same drug but with different strengths.
Meanwhile, they created tools that allowed them to collect references to the drugs from the social network sites.
They found an 87% increase in discussion of psycho-therapeutic agents on non-moderated health social networks.
Conversely, gastrointestinal agents, hormones, anti-infectives and respiratory agents all increased on moderated health social networks.
There was a 42% decrease in discussion of central nervous system agents on health networks that require registration.
Conversely, health social networks that require registration had a 225% increase in posts about respiratory agents.
The paper is scheduled to be published in the Journal of Biomedical Informatics.
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