The scope and types of data available in social networks represent growing potential resources for deciphering and addressing the social determinants of health. Between 2005 and 2018, the use of social media among individuals in the United States increased from 5% to 69%.1 In 2016, the Pew Research Center found that Facebook was the most popular platform, used by 68% of the US population (76% of whom visited the site daily, engaging for nearly an hour a day), followed by Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Twitter.1 Social media user profiles represent archives of people’s activities and connections, curated in real time. Furthermore, the relationships between and among users are dynamic social network structures that intertwine people, places, and their interests.2 This information has the potential to improve understanding of the social determinants of health in a deeper way than prior data sources have ever allowed, and, in turn, identify novel targets that could meaningfully influence health outcomes.
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Abnousi F, Rumsfeld JS, Krumholz HM. Social Determinants of Health in the Digital Age: Determining the Source Code for Nurture. JAMA. 2019;321(3):247–248. doi:10.1001/jama.2018.19763
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