The Online Dissemination of Nature–Health Concepts: Lessons from Sentiment Analysis of Social Media Relating to “Nature-Deficit Disorder”
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Evidence continues to grow supporting the idea that restorative environments, green exercise, and nature-based activities positively impact human health. Nature-deficit disorder, a journalistic term proposed to describe the ill effects of people's alienation from nature, is not yet formally recognized as a medical diagnosis. However, over the past decade, the phrase has been enthusiastically taken up by some segments of the lay public. Social media, such as Twitter, with its opportunities to gather "big data" related to public opinions, offers a medium for exploring the discourse and dissemination around nature-deficit disorder and other nature-health concepts. In this paper, we report our experience of collecting more than 175,000 tweets, applying sentiment analysis to measure positive, neutral or negative feelings, and preliminarily mapping the impact on dissemination. Sentiment analysis is currently used to investigate the repercussions of events in social networks, scrutinize opinions about products and services, and understand various aspects of the communication in Web-based communities. Based on a comparison of nature-deficit-disorder "hashtags" and more generic nature hashtags, we make recommendations for the better dissemination of public health messages through changes to the framing of messages. We show the potential of Twitter to aid in better understanding the impact of the natural environment on human health and wellbeing.
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