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Currently submitted to: JMIR Research Protocols

Date Submitted: Jul 11, 2019
Open Peer Review Period: Jul 15, 2019 - Jul 29, 2019
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Attitudes Toward Seeking Treatment among Patients with Psoriasis: Protocol for a Twitter Content Analysis

  • Katja Reuter; 
  • Delphine Lee; 




Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease that is estimated to affect more than 6 million adults in the U.S. It poses a significant public health problem and contributes to rising health care costs, affecting people’s quality of life and ability to work. Previous research showed that nontreatment and undertreatment of patients with psoriasis remain a significant problem. Attitudes of patients toward seeking psoriasis treatment are poorly understood. Social media offers a new data source of user-generated content. Researchers suggested that the social network Twitter may serve as a rich avenue for exploring how patients communicate about their health issues.


The objective of this study is to conduct a content analysis of Twitter posts (in English) published by users in the U.S. between 02/01/2016 to 10/31/2018 to examine attitudes that potentially influence the treatment decision among patients with psoriasis.


User-generated Twitter posts that include keywords related to lupus will be analyzed using text classifiers to identify themes related to reproductive health and fertility. We will use Symplur Signals, a healthcare social media analytics platform, to access the Twitter data. We will use descriptive statistics to analyze the data and identify the most prevalent topics in the Twitter content among lupus patients.


This study is supported by the National Center for Advancing Translational Science (NCATS) through a Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) award. Study approval was obtained from the Institutional Review Board (IRB) at USC. Data extraction and cleaning are complete. For the time period from 02/01/2016 to 10/31/2018, we obtained 95,040 Twitter posts containing terms related to “psoriasis” from users in the U.S. published in English. After removing duplicates, retweets, and non-English tweets, we found that 75.51% (52301/69264) of the psoriasis-related posts were sent by commercial or bot-like accounts, while 16,963 posts were non-commercial and will be included in the analysis to determine the patient perspective. We intend to complete the analysis by September 2019.


This protocol paper provides a detailed description of a social media research project including the process of data extraction, cleaning, and analysis. It is our goal to contribute to the development of more transparent social media research efforts. Our findings will shed light on whether Twitter provides a promising data source for garnering insights and attitudes about psoriasis treatment decisions expressed among patients. The data will also help to determine whether Twitter might serve as a potential outreach platform for raising awareness of psoriasis and treatment options among patients and for implementing related health interventions. Clinical Trial: N/A


Please cite as:

Reuter K, Lee D

Attitudes Toward Seeking Treatment among Patients with Psoriasis: Protocol for a Twitter Content Analysis

JMIR Preprints. 11/07/2019:13731

DOI: 10.2196/preprints.13731


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