Migraine Sufferers Use Twitter to Share Pain Woes



Migraine sufferers are increasingly turning to social media to share their pain woes, with popular microblogging website Twitter in the lead, said a new study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research. The University of Michigan School of Dentistry study, headed by assistant professor and director of the Headache and Orofacial Pain Effort, Alexandre DaSilva, is the first of its kind, which helped researchers to learn the impact migraine has on sufferers.

The study has helped the researches to further learn that migraine headache pain woes shared on Twitter by migraine suffers can help other patients with the same problem to access widespread information on the social networking website. The researchers also claimed that the results of the study reveal fresh information on how a person suffers and why he chooses Twitter to express his pain.

The researchers note that this study provides a large-scale, real-time collection of data, whereas, most research focuses on retrospective reports of migraines. Professor DaSilva said the research based on social media migraine sufferers has helped his team to understand and track how society is evolving in the way people express their sufferings. He said that with advancement in the field of technology, the ways of patients’ expressing and sharing pain has also changed. He said that this kind of information is pivotal for doctors to connect better with their patients and “provide them with the most effective treatment and relief” they seek.

A total of 21,741 migraine tweets were collected by the researchers to analyze how, where and when migraine sufferers use social media to talk about and describe their pain. The researchers found out that only 65 percent of the tweets were by actual individuals, with 35 percent of tweets categorized as ads, discussion, and retweets.

The research found that 74 percent of the migraine tweets had come from females, whereas, 17 percent of the migraine tweets had come from males. The research team said that during the study, they had also learnt that women tend to be more open about their emotions and pain and share them more often on social networks than men.

In about 44 percent of the migraine-related tweets, the mood of the sufferer was easily identified. 15 percent of the twitter users described their pain to be “worst,” while eight percent described their migraines as “massive.”

Whilst 20 percent of the migraine-related tweets were reported to be from Europe, 58 percent were from the US. The tweets peaking at 14:00 GMT (10 AM Eastern Daylight Saving Time) on Mondays, signifying that a large number of American’s probably suffer from Monday blues.

The study also indicated that approximately 12 percent of the Western population experiences migraine attacks, with 75 percent of them having to further suffer from “reduced functionality.” The study showed that 30 percent of migraine sufferers require bed rest to recover.

Approximately, 47 percent of the adults suffered from headache disorders just last year, according to the World Health Organization, which has also reported that headache disorders are one of the most common nervous system disorders in the world.

Meanwhile, the DaSilva-led research has also showed that when migraine sufferers use Twitter to share their pain woes, it may have a cathartic effect on their mood, indicating a possible improvement from expressing how the sufferer feels.

Opinion by Faryal Najeeb



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