Should a patient’s social networks be considered when assessing their health?
The friends you have on Facebook or other social networks can actually predict your risk for health problems, such as a heart attack. In this video, HealthMaker James Fowler, PhD, professor of medical genetics and political science at UCSD, explains.
Using the friends' data online about what has happened to their health is going to help us to really turn that data into a crystal
ball for you. [MUSIC PLAYING]
This whole idea of friends as data is really critical. Again, so it's early days for knowing whether we can do this with health.
We are soon going to learn this, because this is one of the questions that we're actively researching. Can you predict a person's risk of certain health outcomes
better using friends' data than using their own data? I know it sounds highly implausible. But we've already done this for voting behavior.
And the reason why is because, although the data that your friends have about you is lower quality,
it's much higher in quantity. And so all of the noise in that data, if you do this right, you can wash it out and make much better predictions
about your outcomes. And so, just for example, if we want to know your heart attack risk, one of the things that would be really good to know
is, out of all your Facebook friends, how many of them have had a heart attack.
And people who have friends who have had more heart attacks, there's going to be a lot of things that you share with them-- behaviors,
ideas, different kinds of exercise and eating habits. Those are all going to be integrated
into this piece of information that your friends had heart attacks. And so as a consequence, I think what we're going to see is that using the friends' data
online, about what has happened to their health, is going to help us to really turn that data into crystal
ball for you and help you to really understand what kinds of things you're at risk for and what kinds of things you should be working hardest
on to avoid the bad things that might have happened to your friends. [AUDIO LOGO]
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