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Scanning Twitter may help doctors learn more about the drugs they're prescribing.
According to new research, they are more likely to find out about side effects patients are complaining about by looking online rather than what they say in a doctor's office.
Study - Twitter - Posts - Effects - People
A study looked at more than 20,000 Twitter posts to see what side effects people said they experienced with prednisolone, a commonly used steroid for allergies, blood disorders and even rheumatoid arthritis.
The research team used a computer system to identify tweets containing the drug name and any mention of a likely drug side-effect. For instance, it converted phrases like 'can't sleep', into more medical terms, like 'insomnia'.
Course - Years - Tweets - Prednisolon
Over the course of three years, they harvested 159,297 tweets mentioning prednisolon.
Tweets - Side-effect
Around 20,000 of the tweets also mentioned a suspected side-effect.
Of the tweets analysed, 1,737 mentioned insomnia, 1,656 mentioned weight gain, 1,576 mentioned non-specific reactions such as 'I hate Prednisolone', and 1,515 reported increased appetite. The research was published in the journal Digital Medicine, today.
Patients - Concerns - Insomnia - Weight - Gain
Even though they found patients most often expressed concerns over insomnia and weight gain, these are rarely brought up in conversations with physicians.
Both of these are well-known side effects of prednisolone, but the research tends to focus on more serious side-effects, like...
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