About this item:

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Author Notes:

Caitlin G. Allen, MPH, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, 1518 Clifton Rd, Atlanta, GA 30322 (USA), calle27@emory.edu

All authors contributed to the conception and design of the study, as well as the final approval of the content.

We would like to acknowledge Sylvia Chou for her comments on the final version of this manuscript.

All authors have no conflicts of interest to report.


Research Funding:

There is no funding to report for this study.


  • Genetics
  • Genomics
  • Health information
  • Social media
  • Twitter
  • Communication
  • Genomics
  • Humans
  • Information Dissemination
  • Internet
  • Mass Media
  • Public Opinion
  • Social Media
  • Software

Current Social Media Conversations about Genetics and Genomics in Health: A Twitter-Based Analysis


Journal Title:

Public Health Genomics


Volume 21, Number 1-2


, Pages 93-99

Type of Work:

Article | Post-print: After Peer Review


Background: The growing availability of genomic information to the public may spur discussion about genetics and genomics on social media. Sites, including Twitter, provide a unique space for the public to access and discuss health information. The objective of this study was to better understand how social media users are sharing information about genetics and genomics in health and healthcare and what information is most commonly discussed among Twitter users. Methods: We obtained tweets with specific genetics- and genomics-related keywords from Crimson Hexagon. We used Boolean logic to collect tweets containing chosen keywords within the timeframe of October 1, 2016, to October 1, 2017. Features of the software were used to identify salient themes in conversation, conduct an emergent content analysis, and gather key demographic information. Results: We obtained 347,196 tweets from our search. There was a monthly average volume of 28,432 tweets. The five categories of tweets included: genetic disorders/disease (45.3%), health (15.6%), genomics (8%), and genetic testing (7.3%). Top influencers in the conversation included news outlets and universities. Conclusions: This content analysis provides insight about the types of conversation related to genomics and health. Conversations about genomics are occurring on Twitter, and they frequently emphasize rare genetic diseases and genetic disorders. These discussions tend to be driven by key influencers who primarily include news media outlets. Further understanding of the discussions related to genomics and health in social media may offer insight about topics of importance to the public.

Copyright information:

© 2018 S. Karger AG, Basel.

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