A survey of social media data analysis for physical activity surveillance

Research paper by Sam Liu, Sean D. Young

Indexed on: 05 Nov '16Published on: 30 Oct '16Published in: Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine


Social media data can provide valuable information regarding people's behaviors and health outcomes. Previous studies have shown that social media data can be extracted to monitor and predict infectious disease outbreaks. These same approaches can be applied to other fields including physical activity research and forensic science. Social media data have the potential to provide real-time monitoring and prediction of physical activity level in a given region. This tool can be valuable to public health organizations as it can overcome the time lag in the reporting of physical activity epidemiology data faced by traditional research methods (e.g. surveys, observational studies). As a result, this tool could help public health organizations better mobilize and target physical activity interventions. The first part of this paper aims to describe current approaches (e.g. topic modeling, sentiment analysis and social network analysis) that could be used to analyze social media data to provide real-time monitoring of physical activity level. The second aim of this paper was to discuss ways to apply social media analysis to other fields such as forensic sciences and provide recommendations to further social media research.