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Could Behavioral Medicine Lead the Web Data Revolution?

John W. Ayers, PhD, MA1; Benjamin M. Althouse, PhD, ScM2; Mark Dredze, PhD3
[+] Author Affiliations
1Graduate School of Public Health, San Diego State University, San Diego, California
2Santa Fe Institute, Santa Fe, New Mexico
3Human Language Technology Center of Excellence, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland
JAMA. 2014;311(14):1399-1400. doi:10.1001/jama.2014.1505.
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Digital footprints left on search engines, social media, and social networking sites can be aggregated and analyzed as health proxies, yielding anonymous and instantaneous insights. At present, nearly all the existing work has focused on acute diseases. This means the value added from web surveillance is reduced because the effectiveness of even high-profile systems such as Google Flu Trends are inferior to already strong traditional surveillance.1 Conversely, the future of web surveillance is promising in an area where traditional surveillance is largely incomplete: behavioral medicine, a multidisciplinary field incorporating medicine, social science, and public health and focusing on health behaviors and mental health.

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The American Medical Association is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians. The AMA designates this journal-based CME activity for a maximum of 1 AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM per course. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity. Physicians who complete the CME course and score at least 80% correct on the quiz are eligible for AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM.
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