Attracting Attention in Online Health Forums: Studies of r/Alzheimers and r/dementia

Olivia A. Flynn, Abinav Murugadass, Lu Xiao

Research output: Chapter in Book/Entry/PoemConference contribution

1 Scopus citations


Informal caregivers increasingly use social media for means of information sharing and social support. We study the attention received by healthcare related social media posts, particularly the r/Alzheimers and r/dementia subreddits with the aim of better understanding the user experience on such forums, possibly leading to improvements of their effectiveness. We explore how the linguistic features of a post relate to the amount of attention it receives in terms of votes and comments, focusing on the content, grammar, and sentiment of the text. Unlike traditional approaches that analyze forum activity on each user, we analyze each post as an entity to decipher what makes it influential. We do n-gram and word frequency analysis on the text to compare high- and low-attention posts, then define and calculate attention measures for each post before applying correlation analysis between attention measures and post features. We perform topic modelling analysis on the posts and examine the correlation relationships between a post’s major topic and the amount of attention it receives. Our topic analysis of the posts, along with our n-gram and word frequency analysis, also infer themes of discussion within the subreddits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationDiversity, Divergence, Dialogue - 16th International Conference, iConference 2021, Proceedings
EditorsKatharina Toeppe, Hui Yan, Samuel Kai Chu
PublisherSpringer Science and Business Media Deutschland GmbH
Number of pages19
ISBN (Print)9783030712914
StatePublished - 2021
Event16th International Conference on Diversity, Divergence, Dialogue, iConference 2021 - Beijing, China
Duration: Mar 17 2021Mar 31 2021

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)
Volume12645 LNCS
ISSN (Print)0302-9743
ISSN (Electronic)1611-3349


Conference16th International Conference on Diversity, Divergence, Dialogue, iConference 2021


  • Alzheimers
  • Attention
  • Dementia
  • Language analysis
  • Natural language processing
  • Online health discussion
  • Online influence
  • Topic modelling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • General Computer Science


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