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Editor's e-Note
The anti-vax movement is more active than ever before. Every individual has the right to self-determination, but when personal decisions put others at risk and create a public health threat, the stakes are higher.

This month’s E-News Exclusive reports on efforts to discover and analyze the social media and online information accessible to get to the roots of the anti-vax thought process. Dismissing different beliefs—even if unfounded—is not going to help bridge the anti-vax gap. Read more and learn strategies to respectfully address those beliefs.

We welcome your comments at Visit our website at, like our Facebook page, and follow us on Twitter.

— Marianne Mallon, editor
e-News Exclusive
Bridging the Anti-Vax Gap — Helping Parents Navigate Anti-Vax Social Media and Online Information
By Lindsey Getz

The anti-vaccination movement has been called one of the greatest health crises of our time. Others have called it a regression in modern medicine. However, it’s a crisis that doesn’t appear to be going away. In fact, there are reasons to believe that it may be growing. The number of pediatricians reporting vaccine refusal has increased significantly; the most common reason cited is the belief that vaccines are unnecessary. With social media providing an easy channel to spread these messages, it can be difficult to get a grasp on the information that is influencing consumers. This underlines the importance of better understanding what’s fueling these beliefs.

A viral Facebook campaign against a Pittsburgh pediatric practice recently created the ideal opportunity for researchers to study the anti-vaccination movement and hopefully come to a better understanding of what’s behind it. In 2017, Kids Plus Pediatrics posted a video on its Facebook page that featured practitioners encouraging human papillomavirus, or HPV, vaccinations to prevent cancer. Nearly a month after the video posted, it caught the attention of multiple anti-vaccination groups. In an eight-day period, it garnered thousands of anti-vaccination comments.

This was discouraging to the practice, says Todd Wolynn, MD, CEO of Kids Plus Pediatrics. But it also created an opportunity to understand what was driving these beliefs. The research, led by Beth Hoffman, BSc, involved partnering a team of scientists at the Center for Research on Media, Technology, and Health with Kids Plus Pediatrics to perform a systematic analysis to better understand the people behind the comments and how they cluster in the digitally connected world of social media.

Full story »
Tech & Tools
Your Circle of Friends, Not Your Fitbit, Is More Predictive of Your Health

Wearable fitness trackers have made it all too easy for us to make assumptions about our health. We may look to our heart rate to determine whether we really felt the stress of that presentation at work this morning, or think ourselves healthier based on the number of steps we’ve taken by the end of the day.

But to get a better reading on your overall health and wellness, you’d be better off looking at the strength and structure of your circle of friends, according to a new study in the Public Library of Science journal, PLOS One.

While previous studies have shown how beliefs, opinions, and attitudes spread throughout our social networks, researchers at the University of Notre Dame were interested in what the structure of social networks says about the state of health, happiness, and stress.

“We were interested in the topology of the social network: ‘What does my position within my social network predict about my health and well-being?’” says Nitesh V. Chawla, PhD, Frank M. Freimann Professor of Computer Science and Engineering at Notre Dame, director of the Interdisciplinary Center for Network Science and Applications, and a lead author of the study. “What we found was the social network structure provides a significant improvement in predictability of wellness states of an individual over just using the data derived from wearables, like the number of steps or heart rate.”

Read more »
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