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Using web data to improve surveillance for heat sensitive health outcomes.
Environmental health : a global access science source
Elevated and prolonged exposure to extreme heat is an important cause of excess summertime mortality and morbidity. To protect people from health threats, some governments are currently operating syndromic surveillance systems. However, A lack of resources to support time- and labor- intensive diagnostic and reporting processes make it difficult establishing region-specific surveillance systems. Big data created by social media and web search may improve upon the current syndromic surveillance systems by directly capturing people's individual and subjective thoughts and feelings during heat waves. This study aims to investigate the relationship between heat-related web searches, social media messages, and heat-related health outcomes. METHODS: We collected Twitter messages that mentioned "air conditioning (AC)" and "heat" and Google search data that included weather, medical, recreational, and adaptation information from May 7 to November 3, 2014, focusing on the state of Florida, U.S. We separately associated web data against two different sources of health outcomes (emergency department (ED) and hospital admissions) and five disease categories (cardiovascular disease, dehydration, heat-related illness, renal disease, and respiratory disease). Seasonal and subseasonal temporal cycles were controlled using autoregressive moving average-generalized autoregressive conditional heteroscedasticity (ARMA-GARCH) and generalized linear model (GLM). RESULTS: The results show that the number of heat-related illness and dehydration cases exhibited a significant positive relationship with web data. Specifically, heat-related illness cases showed positive associations with messages (heat, AC) and web searches (drink, heat stroke, park, swim, and tired). In addition, terms such as park, pool, swim, and water tended to show a consistent positive relationship with dehydration cases. However, we found inconsistent relationships between renal illness and web data. Web data also did not improve the models for cardiovascular and respiratory illness cases. CONCLUSIONS: Our findings suggest web data created by social medias and search engines could improve the current syndromic surveillance systems. In particular, heat-related illness and dehydration cases were positively related with web data. This paper also shows that activity patterns for reducing heat stress are associated with several health outcomes. Based on the results, we believe web data could benefit both regions without the systems and persistently hot and humid climates where excess heat early warning systems may be less effective.
Florida Department of Health, 4052 Bald Cypress Way, Tallahassee, FL, 32399, USA.
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