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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.

Citation:

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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