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Social Media Data as a Lens Onto Care-Seeking Behavior Among Women Veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces

In this article, we examine social media data as a lens onto support-seeking among women veterans of the U.S. armed forces. Social media data hold a great deal of promise as a source of information on needs and support-seeking among individuals who are excluded from or systematically prevented from accessing clinical or other institutions ostensibly designed to support them.

Report by Kacie Kelly , Alex Fine, and Glen Coppersmith November 1, 2020

Abstract

In this article, we examine social media data as a lens onto support-seeking among women veterans of the US armed forces. Social media data hold a great deal of promise as a source of information on needs and support-seeking among individuals who are excluded from or systematically prevented from accessing clinical or other institutions ostensibly designed to support them. We apply natural language processing (NLP) techniques to more than 3 million Tweets collected from 20,000 Twitter users. We find evidence that women veterans are more likely to use social media to seek social and community engagement and to discuss mental health and veterans’ issues significantly more frequently than their male counterparts. By contrast, male veterans tend to use social media to amplify political ideologies or to engage in partisan debate. Our results have implications for how organizations can provide outreach and services to this uniquely vulnerable population, and illustrate the utility of non-traditional observational data sources such as social media to understand the needs of marginalized groups.

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