Cedars-Sinai researchers identify patient medication concerns via social media

The No. 1 treatment concern patients with inflammatory bowel disease voice is risk of side effects from biologic medications — even when risks are low.

A team led by Bibiana Martinez, a gastroenterology researcher at Los Angeles-based Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, used natural language processing tools to identify more than 15,000 IBD-related posts on Twitter and online forums. After analyzing relevant keywords and themes, the researchers published their findings on patient concerns in Inflammatory Bowel Diseases, the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation's journal.

The researchers found 28.3 percent of patients' posts focused on biologic medications. The majority (54.6 percent) of these posts discussed patient experiences and fears of negative side effects, while only 8.4 percent of posts discussed the cost of prescribed medications. Twenty-seven percent of posts were from patients asking for treatment advice, despite recently speaking with a physician.

"The complexity of navigating [IBD biologics'] risk-benefit profiles suggests merit in creating online tailored decision tools to support IBD patients' decision-making with biologic therapies," the study authors concluded.

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