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Prescription Drug Abuse:Does Social Media Play a Role? Catherine B Kemp Social Media Marketing & Communication CM 210-01, Spring 2012 Social Media Monitoring Project, Final Report
Prescription Drug Abuse: Does Social Media Play a Role?As discussed in the mid-term report for thisproject, posted March 16, 2012, recent studieshave cited an alarming increase in the numberof adolescents and college students whoadmit to illicit or recreational use ofprescribed opiate analgesics and stimulantmedications.
Prescription Drug Abuse: Does Social Media Play a Role? Paulozzi reported in anarticle published in 2011that, in 2008 in the U.S.,opiate pain relievers wereinvolved in 73.8% of the20,044 reported deathsdue to prescription drugoverdoses. From: Paulozzi, L. J. (2011, November 4). Vital Signs: Overdoses of Prescription Opioid Pain Relievers -- United States,1999-2008. Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report , 60 (43), p 1491
Prescription Drug Abuse: Does Social Media Play a Role?Paulozzi reported in anarticle published in 2011that, in 2008 in the U.S.,opiate pain relievers wereinvolved in 73.8% of the20,044 reported deathsdue to prescription drugoverdoses.From: Paulozzi, L. J. (2011, November 4). Vital Signs: Overdoses of Prescription Opioid Pain Relievers -- United States, 1999-2008. Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report , 60 (43), p 1491
Prescription Drug Abuse: Does Social Media Play a Role?Another study lookingat students who hadlegitimate prescriptionsfor either type of drugfound that 61.7%diverted theirstimulants, while 35.1%diverted theiranalgesics to anotherperson for non-prescribed use.
Prescription Drug Abuse: Does Social Media Play a Role?The principle objective of this monitoringproject is to explore whether or not data culledfrom Social Media can be a useful tool in thephenomenology research of non-medical use ofcertain prescription drugs- specifically thestimulant Adderall®, and the opiate analgesicOxyContin®.
Prescription Drug Abuse: Does Social Media Play a Role?Objectives:• To explore the types of interaction andfrequency of mentions;• To identify any patterns of communicationrelated to these drugs that might emerge; and• To explore some of the methodological,ethical, and practical issues that must beconsidered in this format.
Prescription Drug Abuse: Does Social Media Play a Role?Method:The volume and context of mentions of each drug were tracked daily, over the 6 week period of February 16- March 28, 2012 on the following social networking sites. • Facebook • Twitter • Google Plus
Prescription Drug Abuse:Does Social Media Play a Role? Results: Overview
Prescription Drug Abuse:Does Social Media Play a Role? Results: Adderall®
3000 Adderall® Total Buzz February 17- April 16, 20122500200015001000 500 0
Adderall® Total Buzz, Feb. 17- April 15, 20123000250020001500 Tweet Volume Positive Tweets 1000 Negative Tweets Facebook Posts 500 Google Plus Total Buzz 0 Source: actionly.com
Adderall® Observations• The vast majority of mentions were contained in "Tweets".• There was a sharp drop in the number of "Adderall®" mentions on all three networks during the first 2 weeks of March, possibly coincident with Spring Break.• Conversely, there was a sharp increase in "Adderall®" mentions on the three networks in the latter half of March.• Review of individual messages revealed a "mixed bag" of message types, including lyrics, online pharmacies, partying, studying, and house cleaning.
Adderall® Observations• There were few messages characterized as "positive", and even fewer characterized as "negative". The basis for these characterizations by the data provider was not clear.• Online pharmacies advertising sale of the drug without a prescription were consistently among the "top Tweeters", generating high volumes of messages to low volumes of followers.• There was no clear evidence in this snapshot of Social Media being used for illicit sale of the drug. The online pharmacies had high volume output, but limited reach.• It appears that Adderall® has become a euphemism for ADD/ADHD stereotypes, alertness, studying, and staying awake for various reasons. Less frequently it is spoken of in terms of sexual enhancement and partying.
Prescription Drug Abuse:Does Social Media Play a Role? Results: OxyContin®
500 Total Buzz OxyContin® February 17- April 16, 2012450400350300250200150100 50 0 Source: actionly.com
OxyContin® Observations• OxyContin® mentions showed lower degree of variability than with Adderall®, in both volume and context.• The volume of OxyContin® mentions increased modestly with two main news stories during the study period: – - During coverage of the Limbaugh/Fluke controversy; and – - Surrounding the withdrawal of OxyContin® from the Canadian market.
OxyContin® Observations• The majority of OxyContin® mentions were in the context of concurrent news stories.• Although there were some online pharmacies advertising sale of the drug without a prescription, there were far fewer than with Adderall®, in both absolute volume, and as a percentage of the total volume.
Overall Observations: Methodological Issues• There is no demographic information available to help classify or stratify data sources.• Selection biases: Is this a "random" sample?• These posts were written for public consumption. How does this context affect the data? Can reliable inferences be drawn?• Can standard observational research methods be adapted for Social Media data sources?• What can be done to validate the data? What other data would improve validity and reliability?• Is the data relevant to the research being conducted?
Overall Observations: Some Ethical Issues• Are existing Ethics Review procedures of study protocols adequate to fully vet protocols of research involving Social Media data sources?• Is informed consent of subjects necessary, given that the data is generated in and collected from a public venue?• What are the ethical duties of the Social Media sites and the secondary data aggregators?• Is there a duty to intervene on the part of the researchers, and if so where does it lie and how should it be executed?• Are findings from such research sufficiently reliable and valid to draw inferences?
Overall Observations: Privacy Issues• There is a myriad of privacy issues that need to be addressed that are beyond the scope of this discussion.• Before continuing with further clinical, epidemiological, or other scientific research using social networking data sources, some of the important issues are: – Explicit privacy policies of the data provider- in this project, none could be found on their websites; – Implicit privacy expectations of the data sources; – Local policies & procedures of the investigators related to gathering and handling the data; – Issues of inferences drawn from un-blinded data: are the investigators subject to libel/slander charges?
Future DirectionsIn a March 28, 2012 blog post, author Jasper Snyder noted, "Being able toextract this meaning is a challenge – it’s not easy to do – but it represents asignificant opportunity for market researchers to gain competitiveadvantage." While his comments were directed towards a Market Researchaudience, the underlying principle are relevant to this discussion. Hisapproach can help the investigator in ensuring that the data is from therelevant people, discussing the relevant issues. This approach can be a solidfoundation from which to begin. To start, he suggests exploration of thefollowing questions:• First, at the research level, you can choose to only include messages in your analysis that are posted by the people whose opinions you’re interested in. The way you define groups of people here may in fact map to your existing customer segmentation taxonomy.• Second, you could choose to ‘listen’ only in those venues where the audience whose opinion you’re interested in is likely to be engaging.• Third, you can make sure that you’re only including in your analysis messages where your product (in this case OxyContin®, Adderral®) is being talked about in a relevant context. Source: Snyder, J: How to Use Social Media for Market Research. (March 28, 2012) Converseon URL: http://blog.converseon.com/author/jasper-snyder/