Researchers turn to Twitter to predict heart disease rates

Tools

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania are turning to an unlikely source to predict rates of heart disease: Twitter.

Looking at tweets that include expressions of negative emotion, such as anger, stress and fatigue, the researchers can gauge a community's psychological well-being. The higher the level of negative emotion, the higher the heart disease risk.  

"Getting this data through surveys is expensive and time consuming, but, more important, you're limited by the questions included on the survey," Johannes Eichstaedt, a graduate student in the School of Arts & Science's Department of Psychology, said in an announcement. "You'll never get the psychological richness that comes with the infinite variables of what language people choose to use."

Knowing the mental state of a community could help measure how well public health initiatives are working, according to their study, which was published in the journal Psychological Science. Announcement