Implications of Twitter in Health-Related Research: A Landscape Analysis of the Scientific Literature


Background: Twitter, representing a big social media network, is broadly used for the communication of health-related information. In this work, we aimed to identify and analyze the scientific literature on Twitter use in context of health by utilizing a bibliometric approach, in order to obtain quantitative information on dominant research topics, trending themes, key publications, scientific institutions, and prolific researchers who contributed to this scientific area. Methods: Web of Science electronic database was searched to identify relevant papers on Twitter and health. Basic bibliographic data was obtained utilizing the “Analyze” function of the database. Full records and cited references were exported to VOSviewer, a dedicated bibliometric software, for further analysis. A term map and a keyword map were synthesized to visualize recurring words within titles, abstracts and keywords. Results: The analysis was based on the data from 2,582 papers. The first papers were published in 2009, and the publication count increased rapidly since 2015. Original articles and reviews were published in a ratio of 10.6:1. The Journal of Medical Internet Research was the top journal, and the United States had contributions to over half (52%) of these publications, being the home-country of eight of the top ten most productive institutions. Keyword analysis identified six topically defined clusters, with professional education in healthcare being the top theme cluster (consisting of 66 keywords). The identified papers often investigated Twitter together with other social media, such as YouTube and Facebook. Conclusions: A great diversity of themes was found in the identified papers, including: professional education in healthcare, big data and sentiment analysis, social marketing and substance use, physical and emotional well-being of young adults, and public health and health communication. Our quantitative analysis outlines Twitter as both, an increasingly popular data source, and a highly versatile tool for health-related research.

Full text: Yeung AWK, Kletecka-Pulker M, Eibensteiner F, Plunger P, Völkl-Kernstock S, Willschke H, Atanasov AG. Implications of Twitter in Health-Related Research: A Landscape Analysis of the Scientific Literature. Front Public Health. 2021 Jul 9;9:654481. doi: 10.3389/fpubh.2021.654481. PMID: 34307273; PMCID: PMC8299201.