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Correspondence on ‘Mining social media data to investigate patient perceptions regarding DMARD pharmacotherapy for rheumatoid arthritis’
  1. Katja Reuter1,
  2. Elena Rocca2
  1. 1 Department of Public Health & Preventive Medicine, SUNY Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, New York, USA
  2. 2 Centre for Applied Philosophy of Science, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Ås, Akershus, Norway
  1. Correspondence to Dr Katja Reuter, Department of Public Health & Preventive Medicine, SUNY Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, NY 13210-2306, USA; reuterk{at}

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In their recent article, Sharma et al 1 posed an interesting research question where they used social media data to examine patients’ perceptions of disease modifying anti-rheumatic drug (DMARD) pharmacotherapy for rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The authors used the web analytics platform Treato, which provides data from multiple social media sites. They conducted a sentiment analysis towards DMARDs and identified patient beliefs within the positive and negative sentiment.

While we agree with the authors’ view that social media provides a valuable data source to explore patients’ perspectives, the study design leaves uncertainties about the authors’ results and conclusions. Our primary concern is about the claim that the study establishes causality based on research data of uncertain, potentially low quality and correlations that denote the association between two quantitative variables.

First, the type of data that was included in the data analysis is unclear. The authors did not describe a clear data search strategy (eg, keywords, phrases, hashtags), and they did not provide evidence about the relevance of the included data to the research …

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  • Contributors KR and ER conceived and wrote the presented commentary.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient and public involvement Patients and/or the public were not involved in the design, or conduct, or reporting, or dissemination plans of this research.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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