ICWSM 2017 Tutorial

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Big picture

Observational Studies

Interventions/Behavior Change

May 15, 2017 @ Montreal, Canada
1:30PM - 5:30PM  Hyatt Regency, Room: Symphonie 2A

In this tutorial we showcase the latest advances in the use of social media for health research. 

The scale, reach, and real-time nature of internet allows for epidemiological studies, tracking seasonal illnesses like flu, as well as understanding the context of some conditions, such as anorexia and bulimia. Such passive monitoring allows for nowcasting disease, that is, estimating its prevalence in the moment it happens. Other efforts bring the technology back to the individual, enabling better health data gathering, and eventually feedback and intervention for behavior change and improving health. 

Here, we address data quality issues, involving not only selection bias but also truthfulness, and show how external data ranging from public health data, to quantified self data, to electronic healthcare records can be used for validation. Further, we address a suite of interesting and important ethical issues raised by the use of social media in research, including the need and scope of informed consent, the challenges raised by database, registry and software design and use, the need for some studies to include attention to social groups to achieve community-based participation, and the many challenges to privacy and confidentiality.


1:30 Big picture [slides]
1:50 Observational Studies [slides]
3:30 Coffee break
4:00 Interventions/Behavior Change [slides]
4:20 Ethical Considerations & Patient’s Perspective
5:10 Wrap-up & Discussion
5:30 End


Ingmar Weber
Qatar Computing Research Institute, HBKU

Ingmar Weber is a principal scientist in the Social Computing group at the Qatar Computing Research Institute (QCRI). His interdisciplinary research uses large amounts of online data from social media and other sources to study human behavior at scale. Particular topics of interest include studying lifestyle diseases and population health, quantifying international migration using digital methods, and looking at political polarization and extremism. He has published over 100 peer-reviewed articles and his work is frequently featured in popular press. Since 2016 he has been selected as an ACM Distinguished Speaker.

Yelena Mejova
Qatar Computing Research Institute, HBKU

Yelena Mejova is a Scientist in the Social Computing Group at the Qatar Computing Research Institute (QCRI). Specializing in social media analysis and mining, her work concerns the quantification of health and wellbeing signals in social media, as well as tracking of social phenomena, including politics and news consumption. She co-edited (with Ingmar Weber) a volume on the use of Twitter for social science in Twitter: A Digital Socioscope. Also, Yelena has published widely on sentiment analysis and its application to social media and political speech. She has given talks on the subject internationally, including Yandex’s Yet Another Conference in Moscow and American University of Beirut.

Kenneth W. Goodman
University of Miami

Kenneth W. Goodman is founder and director of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine’s Institute for Bioethics and Health Policy and co-director of the university’s Ethics Programs. The Institute has been designated a World Health Organization Collaborating Center in Ethics and Global Health Policy, one of nine in the world. He is a co-founder of the North American Center for the Study of Ethics and Health Information Technology, a partnership with the Center for Bioethics at Indiana University. He has written numerous articles and several books on topics related to health computing and ethics. He co-founded the Ethical, Legal and Social Issues Working Group for AMIA, formerly the American Medical Informatics Association, of which he has been elected a Fellow.