“As technology and language evolve, so does the way we share our suffering,” says Alexandre DaSilva, assistant professor and director of the Headache and Orofacial Pain Effort at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry. He and his team decided to “evaluate the instant expression of actual self-reported migraine attacks in social media.”
Speaking with Medical News Today, DaSilva said, “social media allows us to track how our society is constantly evolving in the way we express and share our suffering. This kind of information is crucial to better connect with and understand our pain patients in order to provide the most effective treatment and relief they sought for.”
Along with his colleagues, and 50 students, DaSilva analyzed where and how migraineurs use social media to describe their pain. They categorized over 21,000 tweets. They then looked at the most common descriptions of migraines, which included profanities, tweet times and locations, as well as the impact on mood and productivity.
The researchers found that only 65% of the migraine-related tweets were from people actually suffering from migraine. The remaining 35% consisted of ads, discussion and retweets, which DaSilva says shows how not everything in social media is relevant to the patient.
Their findings revealed that….
* 74% of migraine tweets came from females
* the highest global peak of migraine tweets happened on Mondays at 10 am Eastern Daylight Savings Time
* 58% of migraine tweets came from the U.S., followed by 20% from Europe
* On weekdays in the U.S., migraine tweets peaked at 9 am and 8 pm, while morning tweets peaked later on the weekends.
* 44% of tweets revealed that migraines immediately affected mood
The researchers say that the most common words to describe migraines were “worst,” at nearly 15%, and “massive,” at 8%.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), headaches are one of the most common nervous system disorders; around 47% of the global adult population have had headaches at least once within the last year. The organization has stated that “headache has been underestimated, under-recognized and under-treated throughout the world.” Medical News Today 4/6/14