Throughout the pandemic, Indiana University faculty have been pivoting research to solve important questions about COVID-19, including how the virus is affecting people beyond their physical health.
Take Wendy Miller, an associate professor in the School of Nursing at IUPUI. Miller, an IUNI affiliate and director of the Social Network Health Research Lab, is using Twitter to understand how the pandemic is affecting nurses working on the front lines. The lab uses big data, particularly data from social media, to better inform policy and programs that improve health.
In a recent IU Research Impact article, Miller said she is using machine learning to analyze nurses’ Twitter accounts and follow their conversations through the pandemic. Miller says listening to these conversations and to nurses’ needs will help hospitals better prepare for future outbreaks.
Using topic modeling to mine for common Twitter conversations, Miller can see conversations about when hospitals lack personal protective equipment for nurses or find real-time examples of how government policies affect hospitals.
“This project and help tell us what nurses need in future social distancing by showing what they are saying,” Miller said in the article. “If they talk a lot about not having a particular item like masks, we can help them better prepare for future instances like this.”
Highlighting frontline workers
An ICU nurse herself, Miller says the Twitter data will not only help hospitals plan for the future, but also highlight the important role nurses play during the pandemic.
The COVID-19 pandemic, as horrible as it is, has given an opportunity for nurses to really demonstrate what we do in terms of patient care,” Miller said. “I think that’s pretty special, and I hope that it continues even after the pandemic is over so the public knows how important we are as a profession.”
Miller is working on the project with Doyle Groves, an analyst at the Social Network Health Research Lab. To learn more about the research, which Miller plans to continue throughout the pandemic, you can read the article here.
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