To Tweet or Not To Tweet: Community-Based Participatory Research Approaches To Advance Wellness and Violence Prevention Via Social Media

To Tweet or Not To Tweet: Community-Based Participatory Research Approaches To Advance Wellness and Violence Prevention Via Social Media

Ann Marie White, Ph.D., University of Rochester Medical Center

Ms. Melanie Funchess, Director, Mental Health Association

February 11, 2016

ABSTRACT

Many health-related concerns due the interplay of community members’ social media and geographical uses exist. However, rapid deployment of massive amounts of social media data and big data analytic tools for sensing can also become a health intervention aid for local communities. We examine this dynamic interplay through a focus on natural helpers, individuals who others routinely turn to for help and support, and whose efforts can reduce violence risks and promote mental health and wellness in local communities.

During this presentation, we will describe how a community can begin to develop and deploy its own sensing methods for health-related content signals in its social media use through academic-community partnered research.

We will present emerging community-based participatory research on the social media presence of informal helping exchange networks and the relationship to signals of wellness and violence prevention in communities. We draw upon longitudinal Twitter social media network data from a multiple county region surrounding a small and diverse urban area of New York State. These data demonstrate that Twitter users (nodes) with greater centrality in sub-networks of gratefulness (mutual thanking exchanges on Twitter) generate more socially beneficial social media content such as positive sentiment that can enrich social cohesion in communities.

We will explore how to build an academic-community research partnership that can both sense health risks in social media (e.g., alcohol use mentions) while locating and mobilizing helping networks in communities, in order to better identify where quality of life and wellness is robust and to spread community-building initiatives that reinforce social cohesion and reduce observable risks for violence.

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