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Ethical issues of collecting, storing, and analyzing geo-referenced tweets for mental health research


Fadda, Marta; Sykora, Martin; Elayan, Suzanne; Puhan, Milo A; Naslund, John A; Mooney, Stephen J; Albanese, Emiliano; Morese, Rosalba; Gruebner, Oliver (2022). Ethical issues of collecting, storing, and analyzing geo-referenced tweets for mental health research. Digital Health, 8:205520762210925.

Abstract

Spatial approaches to epidemiological research with big social media data provide tremendous opportunities to study the relationship between the socio-ecological context where these data are generated and health indicators of interest. Such research poses a number of ethical challenges, particularly in relation to issues such as privacy, informed consent, data security, and storage. While these issues have received considerable attention by researchers in relation to research for physical health purposes in the past 10 years, there have been few efforts to consider the ethical challenges of conducting mental health research, particularly with geo-referenced social media data. The aim of this article is to identify strengths and limitations of current recommendations to address the specific ethical issues of geo-referenced tweets for mental health research. We contribute to the ongoing debate on the ethical implications of big data research and also provide recommendations to researchers and stakeholders alike on how to tackle them, with a specific focus on the use of geo-referenced data for mental health research purposes. With increasing awareness of data privacy and confidentiality issues (even for non-spatial social media data) it becomes crucial to establish professional standards of conduct so that compliance with ethical standards of conducting research with health-related social media data can be prioritized and easily assessed.

Abstract

Spatial approaches to epidemiological research with big social media data provide tremendous opportunities to study the relationship between the socio-ecological context where these data are generated and health indicators of interest. Such research poses a number of ethical challenges, particularly in relation to issues such as privacy, informed consent, data security, and storage. While these issues have received considerable attention by researchers in relation to research for physical health purposes in the past 10 years, there have been few efforts to consider the ethical challenges of conducting mental health research, particularly with geo-referenced social media data. The aim of this article is to identify strengths and limitations of current recommendations to address the specific ethical issues of geo-referenced tweets for mental health research. We contribute to the ongoing debate on the ethical implications of big data research and also provide recommendations to researchers and stakeholders alike on how to tackle them, with a specific focus on the use of geo-referenced data for mental health research purposes. With increasing awareness of data privacy and confidentiality issues (even for non-spatial social media data) it becomes crucial to establish professional standards of conduct so that compliance with ethical standards of conducting research with health-related social media data can be prioritized and easily assessed.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Prevention Institute (EBPI)
07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography
Dewey Decimal Classification:910 Geography & travel
Scopus Subject Areas:Health Sciences > Health Policy
Health Sciences > Health Informatics
Physical Sciences > Computer Science Applications
Health Sciences > Health Information Management
Uncontrolled Keywords:Health Information Management, Computer Science Applications, Health Informatics, Health Policy
Language:English
Date:1 January 2022
Deposited On:05 May 2022 07:48
Last Modified:27 Apr 2024 01:37
Publisher:Sage Publications
ISSN:2055-2076
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1177/20552076221092539
Project Information:
  • : FunderSSPH+
  • : Grant ID
  • : Project Title
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)