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Background. Researchers have used traditional databases to study public health for decades. Less is known about the use of social media data sources, such as Twitter, for this purpose.
Objectives. To systematically review the use of Twitter in health research, define a taxonomy to describe Twitter use, and characterize the current state of Twitter in health research.
Selection criteria. We searched for peer-reviewed original research studies that primarily used Twitter for health research.

Conclusions. We identified a new taxonomy to describe Twitter use in health research with 6 categories. Many data elements discernible from a user’s Twitter profile, especially demographics, have been underreported in the literature and can provide new opportunities to characterize the users whose data are analyzed in these studies. Twitter-based health research is a growing field funded by a diversity of organizations.

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In the not-so-distant past, patients had only one source for healthcare expertise — their personal physicians. They relied on doctors to monitor their symptoms, track changes in their health, manage their diseases and personalize their care. But in recent years, mobile technology and the Internet of Things (IoT) has changed all that.Now, armed with wearables and mobile healthcare apps, individuals can monitor their own health data and get continuous guidance and information from the devices they carry with them every day.
But the availability of digital health tools is a double-edged sword for the medical industry. Patients are becoming more engaged in their own wellness and taking greater responsibility for staying healthy, which leads to better outcomes. On the other hand, as they rely more on these tools, are they relying less on the robust insights and expertise of medical professionals?
Tribune. Pour le docteur Fabien Reyal, chirurgien spécialiste du cancer du sein à l’Institut Curie, il ne peut y avoir demain de médecine personnalisée sans un collectif fort.En France, 350 000 personnes sont atteintes chaque année d’un cancer. Ce constat est connu de tous, le cancer est une maladie fréquente. Nous sommes pourtant à un tournant de l’histoire, où les possibilités technologiques servant à comprendre le vivant, la diversité des molécules existantes et la qualité des traitements devraient permettre de proposer une médecine personnalisée efficace pour les patients.

Il faut donc faire évoluer l’écosystème de la recherche. Pour cela, quatre axes de réflexion.
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It seems that SM are more and more used in PH. Whether they are useful or not depends on how “usefulness” is defined and how it is measured: societal impact should be measured in addition to scholarly impact, as public health is a field that per definition should have social impact. As a lot of the evidence for the impact of SM is still anecdotal (Bik and Goldstein 2013), we echo Moorhead’s suggestion (Moorhead et al. 2013), namely that further research is needed with more robust methodologies and possibly RCTs to determine the role and effectiveness of SM for health care communication. We are excited about the results of such endeavours while at the same time we are trying to contribute to research ourselves (more on this soon). In the meantime, we are awaiting the announcement of next word of the year. Being part of SM seems to improve our chances to know what it means!

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