Estimation of the prevalence of adverse drug reactions from social media

Thin Nguyen, Mark E. Larsen, Bridianne O'Dea, Dinh Phung, Svetha Venkatesh, Helen Christensen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


This work aims to estimate the degree of adverse drug reactions (ADR) for psychiatric medications from social media, including Twitter, Reddit, and LiveJournal. Advances in lightning-fast cluster computing was employed to process large scale data, consisting of 6.4 terabytes of data containing 3.8 billion records from all the media. Rates of ADR were quantified using the SIDER database of drugs and side-effects, and an estimated ADR rate was based on the prevalence of discussion in the social media corpora. Agreement between these measures for a sample of ten popular psychiatric drugs was evaluated using the Pearson correlation coefficient, r, with values between 0.08 and 0.50. Word2vec, a novel neural learning framework, was utilized to improve the coverage of variants of ADR terms in the unstructured text by identifying syntactically or semantically similar terms. Improved correlation coefficients, between 0.29 and 0.59, demonstrates the capability of advanced techniques in machine learning to aid in the discovery of meaningful patterns from medical data, and social media data, at scale.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)130-137
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Medical Informatics
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Adverse drug reactions
  • Consumer health informatics
  • Drug informatics
  • Social media
  • Word embedding
  • Word representation

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