Quantifying and predicting mental illness severity in online pro-eating disorder communities

Stevie Chancellor, Zhiyuan Jerry Lin, Erica L. Goodman, Stephanie Zerwas, Munmun De Choudhury

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Abstract

Social media sites have struggled with the presence of emotional and physical self-injury content. Individuals who share such content are often challenged with severe mental illnesses like eating disorders. We present the first study quantifying levels of mental illness severity (MIS) in social media. We examine a set of users on Instagram who post content on pro-eating disorder tags (26M posts from 100K users). Our novel statistical methodology combines topic modeling and novice/clinician annotations to infer MIS in a user's content. Alarmingly, we find that proportion of users whose content expresses high MIS have been on the rise since 2012 (13%/year increase). Previous MIS in a user's content over seven months can predict future risk with ∼81% accuracy. Our model can also forecast MIS levels up to eight months in the future with performance better than baseline. We discuss the health outcomes and design implications as well as ethical considerations of this line of research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 19th ACM Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing, CSCW 2016
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Pages1171-1184
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9781450335928
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 27 2016
Externally publishedYes
Event19th ACM Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing, CSCW 2016 - San Francisco, United States
Duration: Feb 27 2016Mar 2 2016

Publication series

NameProceedings of the ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work, CSCW
Volume27

Other

Other19th ACM Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing, CSCW 2016
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Francisco
Period2/27/163/2/16

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 ACM.

Keywords

  • Eating disorder
  • Instagram
  • Mental health
  • Mental illness
  • Selfinjury
  • Social media

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