Characterizing physical activity in a health social network

Javid Ebrahimi, Nhathai Phan, Dejing Dou, Brigitte Piniewski, David Kil

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

4 Scopus citations


New horizons are emerging within healthcare delivery, ed-ucation, intervention provision, and tracking. We study a health social network that has tracked physical activi-Ties, biomarkers, and posts the participants have shared, throughout a one-year program. The program was aimed at helping people to adopt healthy behaviors and to lose weight. In this paper, we focus on users' posts that re-late to physical activities. Prior papers characterize health based solely on users' information disclosed through natural language or questionnaires. The drawback of these works is their lack of medical records or health-related informa-Tion to validate their findings. By contrast, with our direct access to users' physical and medical data, we investigate the implication of users' posts at both individual and group levels. We are able to validate our hypotheses about the effects of certain social network activities, by contextualiz-ing them in the specific users' actual medical progress and documented levels of exercise. Our findings show that ac-Tivity self-disclosure posts are good indicators of one's real-world physical activity, which makes them good resources for monitoring the participants. In addition, using a phys-ical activity propagation model, we show how these posts can inuence the physical activity behavior at the network level. Further, posts exhibit distinctive affective, biological, and linguistic style markers. We observe that these char-Acteristics can be used in a predictive capacity, to detect positive activity signals with ∼ 88% accuracy, which can be utilized for an unobtrusive monitoring solution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationDH 2016 - Proceedings of the 2016 Digital Health Conference
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery, Inc
Number of pages7
ISBN (Electronic)9781450342247
StatePublished - Apr 11 2016
Externally publishedYes
Event6th International Conference on Digital Health, DH 2016 - Montreal, Canada
Duration: Apr 11 2016Apr 13 2016

Publication series

NameDH 2016 - Proceedings of the 2016 Digital Health Conference


Other6th International Conference on Digital Health, DH 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health Information Management
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Health Informatics


  • Classification
  • Health social network
  • Physical activity prop-Agation
  • Topic modeling


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