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Disease monitoring and tracking is of tremendous value, not only for containing the spread of contagious diseases but also for avoiding unnecessary public concerns and even panic. In this chapter, we present a near real-time sentiment analysis service of public health-related tweets. Traditionally, it is impossible for humans to effectively measure the degree of public health concerns due to limited resources and significant time delays. To solve this problem, we have developed a computational intelligence approach for Epidemic Sentiment Monitoring System (ESMOS) to automatically analyze the disease sentiments and gauge the Measure of Concern (MOC) expressed by Twitter users. More specifically, we present a knowledge-based approach that employs a disease ontology to detect the outbreak of diseases and to analyze the linguistic expressions that convey subjective expressions and sentiment polarity of emotions, feelings, opinions, personal attitudes, etc. with a sentiment classifier. The two-step sentiment classification method utilizes the subjective vocabulary corpus (MPQA), sentiment strength corpus (AFINN), as well as emoticons and profanity words that are often used in social media postings. It first automatically classifies the tweets into personal and non-personal classes, eliminating many tweets such as non-personal “retweets” of news articles from further consideration. In the second stage, the personal tweets are classified into Negative and non-Negative sentiments. In addition, we present a model to quantify the public’s Measure of Concern (MOC) about a disease, based on sentiment classification results. The trends of the public MOC are visualized on a timeline. Correlation analyses between MOC timeline and disease-related sentiment category timelines show that the peaks of the MOC are weakly correlated with the peaks of the News timeline without any appreciable time delay or lead. Our sentiment analysis method and the MOC trend analyses can be generalized to other topical domains, such as mental health monitoring and crisis management. We present the ESMOS prototype for public health-related disease monitoring, for public concern trending and for mapping analyses.


This work was originally published in Sentiment Analysis and Ontology Engineering, available at DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-30319-2_17

This article is made available for unrestricted research re-use and secondary analysis in any form or by any means with acknowledgement of the original source. These permissions are granted for the duration of the World Health Organization (WHO) declaration of COVID-19 as a global pandemic.

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