Dementia is a disease which arouses global concern. At present, 50 million people suffer from dementia around the world (WHO, 2017). In Hong Kong, we lack of well-established social network to generate good flow of up-to-date information on dementia for those in need. But in Twittersphere, there are many users discussed or posted regularly on messages about dementia. In other words, Twitter has a common social network for users to get and diffuse information, interact with and influence each other regarding the topic of dementia in some areas. Through data analysis, this project aims to provide an overview on the interactions of Twitter users towards the issue of “dementia” in Twittersphere. It also identifies how and what the contents of most influential accounts of concern groups spread in Twitter and how in terms of weighted degree, centrality, retweets, edges etc.
The findings in this project are based on Hashtag #dementia, and the time period of data collection by TAGS 6.1 is from 8 April 00:00:00 to 10 April 00:00:00, 2018. The total number of tweets are 5138.
a. Tweets over Time – most tweets come from retweets.
b. There is one dominant account of retweets : lead_coalition. It’s very outstanding to have over 600 retweets, while the second account “surreypolice” only has less than 100 tweets.
By using Voyant tools to analyze the basic texts of the data, we used the corpus which contains 309,314 total words and 11,501 unique word forms. 145 terms are generated in Voyant of the data. The most frequent terms that appear in the corpus are: dementia (5973); alzheimers (1781); lead_coalition (1136); care (634); disease (523) help (501) and living (454).
By using Gephi tools to analyze the out-degree of edges, we have found that the most retweets and the third active mention account “Lead_Coalition” contains the highest degree of out-degree of edges. Few other accounts “Surrey Police”, “AhpDementia” and “mindingourelder” which contain in “out-degree” activities in the disseminating of messages in Twitter on the topic of dementia, but the amounts are so small which are not significant and cannot show clearly in the graph.
4) Content Analysis
The coding results show that the salient themes in conversations in Twitter. Among the sampling of 200 tweets, the most salient theme is “information sharing” (81 tweets) followed by “mobilization” (52 tweets) and “support” (37 tweets). There are also some tweets on research and personal sharing of experience. By adding up “Sharing(experience and information)”, “mobilization” and “support” which over 89.9% of total tweets, this result matches part of literature review that “Interacting through social media can increase social support and feelings of connectedness, as well as lead to a sense of empowerment in patients.” (“Aging 2.0: Health Information about Dementia on Twitter”, 2013)
To conclude, this data analysis on the hashtag #dementia gives insights on Tweeters’ contents, activities and interactions on Twitter. Two-step flow can be applied in this data analysis. First, the information or news about dementia is delivered from issue-specific leadership. They are retweeted or posted by opinion leaders through their twitter accounts in either interpersonal engagement or civic engagement. Finally, those messages spread to other individual Twitter users and viral on the social network. Some dominant Twitter accounts, including Lead_Coalition play important roles as bridging to pass updated information or messages on Twitters. Though from the analysis, we have found that the social network of “dementia” is present, with the main purposes to share experience or information, and mobilize Twitter users for support, the personal influence to mass media is relatively small, and online discussion or interactions based on same issues related to “dementia” are not so common. Only sporadic opinion responds to other tweets can be found.
Alane Lim. (February 6, 2018). Northwestern researchers explore how Twitter users talk about Alzheimer’s, dementia. The Daily Northwestern. Retrieved from
Julie M. Robillard, Thomas W. Johnson,Craig Hennessey, B. Lynn Beattie, Judy Illes. (July 26, 2013). Aging 2.0: Health Information about Dementia on Twitter. PLOsone. Retrieved from http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0069861
SINTEF. (September 21, 2011). Social media for dementia patients. ScienceDaily. Retrieved from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110915113627.htm
Twitter account: LEAD_Coalition https://twitter.com/LEAD_Coalition
Twitter account: ENDALZ https://twitter.com/alzassociation
World Health Organisation (WHO). (December 2017). Dementia.