Insights from Twitter about Public Perceptions of Asthma, COPD, and Exposures

Philip I Harber, Gondy Leroy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Objective: The aim of this study was to analyze tweets concerning asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Methods: Approximately 40,000 tweets containing asthma or COPD were analyzed. Lexical analysis ranked terms and domains of interest, compared COPD with asthma tweets, evaluated co-occurrence of terms within tweets, and assessed differences by source (personal, institutional, or retweet). The frequency of indicator terms relevant to occupational health was determined. Results: Many tweets address community pollution and effects on children, but there is much less interest in work-related factors and occupational regulatory agencies. Environment is considered much more relevant for asthma than COPD. Conclusion: Although epidemiologic studies demonstrate a major burden of occupational factors upon both diseases, significantly improved outreach is needed to overcome inadequate public interest. Social media represent a valuable resource for assessing perceptions about work-related disease and potentially discovering new associations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)484-490
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of occupational and environmental medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2019


  • COPD
  • natural language processing
  • occupational asthma
  • occupational respiratory disorders
  • public health informatics
  • social media
  • twitter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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