Insulin pricing and other major diabetes-related concerns in the USA: A study of 46 407 tweets between 2017 and 2019

Adrian Ahne, Francisco Orchard, Xavier Tannier, Camille Perchoux, Beverley Balkau, Sherry Pagoto, Jessica Lee Harding, Thomas Czernichow, Guy Fagherazzi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction Little research has been done to systematically evaluate concerns of people living with diabetes through social media, which has been a powerful tool for social change and to better understand perceptions around health-related issues. This study aims to identify key diabetes-related concerns in the USA and primary emotions associated with those concerns using information shared on Twitter. Research design and methods A total of 11.7 million diabetes-related tweets in English were collected between April 2017 and July 2019. Machine learning methods were used to filter tweets with personal content, to geolocate (to the USA) and to identify clusters of tweets with emotional elements. A sentiment analysis was then applied to each cluster. Results We identified 46 407 tweets with emotional elements in the USA from which 30 clusters were identified; 5 clusters (18% of tweets) were related to insulin pricing with both positive emotions (joy, love) referring to advocacy for affordable insulin and sadness emotions related to the frustration of insulin prices, 5 clusters (12% of tweets) to solidarity and support with a majority of joy and love emotions expressed. The most negative topics (10% of tweets) were related to diabetes distress (24% sadness, 27% anger, 21% fear elements), to diabetic and insulin shock (45% anger, 46% fear) and comorbidities (40% sadness). Conclusions Using social media data, we have been able to describe key diabetes-related concerns and their associated emotions. More specifically, we were able to highlight the real-world concerns of insulin pricing and its negative impact on mood. Using such data can be a useful addition to current measures that inform public decision making around topics of concern and burden among people with diabetes.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere001190
JournalBMJ Open Diabetes Research and Care
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jun 2020


  • emotion
  • epidemiology
  • methodology
  • psychological stress


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