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Researchers seek volunteers to help track the spread of flu using social media

Research Participant Criteria

To be eligible for this study, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Gender: Male or Female
  • Age: 18 - 70 Years

Research Study Details

Tracking the spread of flu using social media

The ubiquity of mobile devices and the rapid growth in the use of social media to communicate and share information is providing health care decision makers new opportunities to track and predict health, and to optimize utilization of health care facilities.

A team of research scientists at Penn State University Park, in conjunction with University Health Services (UHS), are conducting a study for research purposes to investigate whether the use of social media across campus, such as Twitter and Facebook, could help track influenza outbreaks. People often share their flu symptom experiences (cough, fever) via social media and the researchers recognize that that this information could provide a valuable tool in predicting influenza outbreaks earlier than current surveillance methods. The results of this study could lead to better preparedness at the university should there ever be a flu epidemic. The team are hoping to recruit as many students and faculty/staff to the project as possible. Participants will be entered into a draw to win an iPad.

If you are 18 years old or older and would like to participate in the study, please click here:

If you have any questions or concerns please contact Dr Marcel Salathé in the Centre for Infectious Disease Dynamics, W-252Millennium Sciences Building, University Park, PA, 16802. Email: Tel: 814 – 867 – 4431.

Study Dates, Times and Location

Start Date: Feb 01, 2013 12:00 AM
Study Available by Appointment?: No
Location: The study will collect data from social media sources (Twitter and Facebook). As such, it will not take place in any particular building.

Approximate Participant Study Length: 2 Years

Participants' active involvement lasts less than 10 minutes, the time it takes to fill out a short survey. Associated social media data will be collected to obtain a maximum of 12 months prior and 12 months after participants provide consent. We will collect particpants' social media data a maximum of 12 months before and 12 months after so that any changes in social media behavior (content and/or frequency) can be analyzed. One of the signals that people are sick could be a change in the content or frequency of posting.

Compensation: No

Arrow Go to the Research Study Website

Contact Information

Marcel Salathe
814 – 867 – 4431

This study has been approved by a Penn State Institutional Review Board (IRB). IRB Approval Number 41345