Tweets about migraines provide data on pain
Social media outlets like Twitter may help doctors better understand causes and potential treatments for people who have migraines, according to new research.
Scientists from the University of Michigan examined approximately 22,000 tweets that included the word “migraine” that were posted over a one-week period. They found that globally, the migraine tweets spiked at 10 a.m. on Monday. In the United States, about 74 percent of the migraine tweets came from women, and the majority of the tweets occurred between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m., Monday through Friday. Researchers said they were unable to conclude whether women have more migraines than men or whether they are simply more open to talking about their migraines on social media than are men.
The findings, published in Journal of Medical Internet Research, do not provide answers to the scientific community’s questions about migraines. It remains unclear what causes them, who is more at-risk and how to best treat them. However, the researchers concluded that social media outlets such as Twitter provide a healthy opportunity for people suffering from migraines to share experiences and get some emotional relief. They also suggested that doctors could benefit from observing patients’ social media behavior, as it may help them better understand patients and identify trends in their condition.