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Patients with SZ Tweet Frequently About Tobacco

Psychiatry Res; ePub 2017 Aug 2; Hswen, et al

Online communication about tobacco may parallel real world trends of elevated tobacco use observed among people with schizophrenia (SZ), according to a recent study. By showing that Twitter users who self-identify as having SZ discuss tobacco-related content online, popular social media could inform smoking cessation efforts targeting this at-risk group. This exploratory study examined the frequency, timing, and type of communication about tobacco-related content on Twitter among users who self-identify as having SZ compared with users from the general population. Over a 200-day period from January to July 2016, Twitter users who self-identify as having a SZ spectrum disorder (n=203) and a randomly selected group of general population control users (n=173) posted 1,544,122 tweets. Tweets containing tobacco-related keywords were extracted. Researchers found:

  • Twitter users with SZ posted significantly more tweets containing any tobacco-related terms compared with control users.
  • A significantly greater proportion of Twitter users with SZ (45%; n=92) posted tweets containing any tobacco terms compared with control users (30%; n=52).
  • SZ users showed significantly greater odds of tweeting about tobacco compared with control users.

Hswen Y, Naslun JA, Chandrashekar P, Siegel R, Brownstein JS, Hawkins JB. Exploring online communication about cigarette smoking among Twitter users who self-identify as having schizophrenia. [Published online ahead of print August 2, 2017]. Psychiatry Res. doi:10.1016/j.psychres.2017.08.002.

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