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In JMIR medical informatics ; h5-index 23.0

BACKGROUND : Introduction: Public engagement is a key element for mitigating pandemics, and a good understanding of public opinion could help to encourage the successful adoption of public health measures by the population. In past years, deep learning has been more and more applied to the analysis of text from social networks. However, most of developed approaches can only capture topics or sentiments alone, but not both together.

OBJECTIVE : Objective: Here, we aimed to develop a new approach, based on deep neural networks, for simultaneously capturing public topics and sentiments, and applied it to tweets sent just after the announcement of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic by the WHO.

METHODS : Methods: A total of 1,386,496 tweets were collected, preprocessed, and split with a ratio of 80/20 into training/validation sets. We combined lexicons and convolutional neural networks for improving sentiment prediction. The trained model achieved an overall accuracy of 81 % and a precision of 82 %, and was able to capture simultaneously the weighted words associated to a predicted sentiment intensity score. These outputs were then visualized via an interactive and customizable web interface based on a word-cloud representation. Using word cloud analysis, we captured the main topics for extreme positive and negative sentiment intensity scores.

RESULTS : Results: In reaction to the announcement of the pandemic by the WHO, six negative and five positive topics were discussed on Twitter. Twitter users seemed to be worried about the international situation, the economic consequences, and the medical situation. Conversely, they seemed to be satisfied with the commitment of medical and social workers and with the collaboration between people.

CONCLUSIONS : Conclusions: We propose a new method based on deep neural networks for simultaneously extracting public topics and sentiments from tweets. This method could be helpful for monitoring public opinion during crises such as pandemics.


Boukobza Adrien, Burgun Anita, Roudier Bertrand, Tsopra Rosy