Identifying emotional and informational support in online health communities

Prakhar Biyani, Cornelia Caragea, Prasenjit Mitra, John Yen

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

24 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

A large number of online health communities exist today, helping millions of people with social support during difficult phases of their lives when they suffer from serious diseases. Interactions between members in these communities contain discussions on practical problems faced by people during their illness such as depression, side-effects of medications, etc and answers to those problems provided by other members. Analyzing these interactions can be helpful in getting crucial information about the community such as dominant health issues, identifying sentimental effects of interactions on individual members and identifying influential members. In this paper, we analyze user messages of an online cancer support community, Cancer Survivors Network (CSN), to identity the two types of social support present in them: emotional support and informational support. We model the task as a binary classification problem. We use several generic and novel domain-specific features. Experimental results show that we achieve high classification performance. We, then, use the classifier to predict the type of support in CSN messages and analyze the posting behaviors of regular members and influential members in CSN in terms of the type of support they provide in their messages. We find that influential members generally provide more emotional support as compared to regular members in CSN.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCOLING 2014 - 25th International Conference on Computational Linguistics, Proceedings of COLING 2014: Technical Papers
PublisherAssociation for Computational Linguistics, ACL Anthology
Pages827-836
Number of pages10
ISBN (Print)9781941643266
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes
Event25th International Conference on Computational Linguistics, COLING 2014 - Dublin, Ireland
Duration: 23 Aug 201429 Aug 2014

Other

Other25th International Conference on Computational Linguistics, COLING 2014
CountryIreland
CityDublin
Period23/8/1429/8/14

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language

Cite this

Biyani, P., Caragea, C., Mitra, P., & Yen, J. (2014). Identifying emotional and informational support in online health communities. In COLING 2014 - 25th International Conference on Computational Linguistics, Proceedings of COLING 2014: Technical Papers (pp. 827-836). Association for Computational Linguistics, ACL Anthology.