Finding Signs of Health Woes in Facebook Postings

THURSDAY, March 12, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Could clues to future health emergencies be found in Facebook posts?

Maybe so, according to a new study that discovered there are changes in users’ posts before they seek emergency care.

For the study, researchers analyzed the Facebook posts and medical records of more than 2,900 patients at a U.S. urban hospital, including 419 who’d had a recent emergency department visit for problems ranging from chest pain to pregnancy-related issues.

Analysis of Facebook posts from as early as 2.5 months before those patients’ emergency visits revealed that most had changes in their language before seeking emergency care.

Specifically, they were less likely to post about leisure or use words like “play,” “fun” and “nap,” and less likely to use internet slang and informal language such as “u” instead of “you,” the findings showed.

The closer they got to their emergency department visit, the patients’ Facebook posts increasingly focused on family and health. There was also increased use of anxious, worrisome and depressed language, according to the study published March 12 in the journal Nature Scientific Reports.

The study suggests that social media posts may offer