HILJClub – Novel insights into views towards H1N1 during the 2009 Pandemic: a thematic analysis of twitter data

This edition of HILJ Club has been prepared by:

Catherine McLaren. LKS Development Manager; Library & Knowledge Services and Technology Enhanced Learning, HEE Midlands and East. @cmmclaren

HILJ Club is a intended as a simple way for people to do a bit of CPD by engaging with articles published in HILJ.  HILJ is the journal of the Health Libraries Group of CILIP and all members have access.  Working with Wiley we should be able to open articles up to all for a month around the discussion.  The article selected this time is Open Access which makes this simpler.

The plan remains to pick an article to be discussed from each issue of HILJ. The organising group (Alan Fricker, Catherine McLaren, Morag Clarkson, Lisa Burscheidt, Tom Roper) have picked articles thus far but in future people would be welcome to volunteer to host.  At present articles are hosted on peoples blogs but we may set up a platform at some point.  Generally the host will offer some questions as prompts and then the discussion can go where interest takes it.

Over to Catherine…

#HILJClub, CPD for library staff, especially those interested in health. This time around I got to choose the article we are looking at.

Ahmen, W., Bath, P. A., Sbaffi, L and Demartin, G. (2019) Novel insights into views towards H1N1 during the 2009 Pandemic: a thematic analysis of twitter data. Health Info Libr J, 36: 60-72. doi:10.1111/hir.12247

Background

Infectious disease outbreaks have the potential to cause a high number of fatalities and are a very serious public health risk.

Objectives

Our aim was to utilise an indepth method to study a period of time where the H1N1 Pandemic of 2009 was at its peak.

Methods

A data set of n = 214 784 tweets was retrieved and filtered, and the method of thematic analysis was used to analyse the data.

Results

Eight key themes emerged from the analysis of data: emotion and feeling, health related information, general commentary and resources, media and health organisations, politics, country of origin, food, and humour and/or sarcasm.

Discussion

A major novel finding was that due to the name ‘swine flu’, Twitter users had the belief that pigs and pork could host and/or transmit the virus. Our paper also considered the methodological implications for the wider field of library and information science as well as specific implications for health information and library workers.

Conclusion

Novel insights were derived on how users communicate about disease outbreaks on social media platforms. Our study also provides an innovative methodological contribution because it was found that by utilising an indepth method it was possible to extract greater insight into user communication.

Questions

What? What do you think of this article? What do you think of the research methods? Is there something else that you would have liked to have seen included in the article?

So what? Does this article encourage you to use twitter as the bases for research? Do you think this method could or should be used to research other areas of the profession?

Now what? What areas of the profession would you be interested in researching in a similar way? Will you change your practice as a result of reading this article? If so, how? If not, why not?

 

This article came to my attention because over the last year library and knowledge service staff within the NHS in England have been introduced to health literacy. How they can support NHS staff understand and use health literacy to support the public. So that the public’s health decisions are health literate. The health literacy challenge is already large and anything the brings stress, fear or anxiety to a person reduces their health literacy. How much more so would this be in a large international public health emergency like Swine Flu or Ebola. The writers acknowledge that twitter can be useful in this area; ‘This is because common misunderstandings and key questions relating to health can be rapidly identified and correct information can be consequently disseminated’.

Let’s focus on the questions.

What?

This article interested me for a number of reasons including that Twitter is a social media tool that a lot of library staff use. It is used both personally and professionally but are we aware of how it can be used as a research tool? This article looks at ‘data driven qualitative insights into tweets relating to’ an event of international importance; in this case infectious disease outbreaks and particularly the 2009 Swine flu outbreak.

The article suggests ‘that the methodology applied in this study can be adapted for the analysis of discussions surrounding libraries as well as the profession as a whole’.  Therefore, it is important to judge how robust this methodology is and how and when it might be reproduced in other parts of the profession.

The research question asked within the article was “What type of information was shared on Twitter during the peak of the 2009 swine Flu Pandemic?”

What comes to mind is how do you define the peak of the 2009 Flu Pandemic. The authors defined it as April 28th and 29th 2009 and that Google Trends showed the highest peak during this period of time. UK government data does not support this, instead showing the week beginning June 15th 2009 as being the peak. Figure 1, Health Protection Agency, UK (2010) Epidemiological report of pandemic (H1N1) 2009 in the UK. Available at: https://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20140713172844/http://www.hpa.org.uk/Publications/InfectiousDiseases/Influenza/1010EpidemiologicalreportofpandemicH1N12009inUK/ [Accessed 29/5/2019].

Data from Australia also doesn’t support the idea that the end of April 2009 was the peak of the pandemic, Figure 4 puts it at the middle to end of July 2009.  Department of Health, AU (2010) Annual Report of the National Influenza Surveillance Scheme, 2009. Available at: https://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/cdi4104-j [Accessed 29/5/2019].

The World Health Organisation declared a “Public Health Emergency of International Concern” on 25th April 2009. WHO (2010) Evolution of a Pandemic A(N1N1) 2009, April 2009 – August 2010. Available at: https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/78414/9789241503051_eng.pdf;jsessionid=FC3A8C2A60656D1C3597D76F02F03173?sequence=1 [Accessed 29/5/2019] and a phrase 5 pandemic (wide spread human infection) on 29th April 2009. This maybe why the dates in April where chosen as being the height of the outbreak, as this was when it was high in people minds and online google searches were being done, but it was not the clinical peak of the outbreak as shown by UK, Australian or WHO government surveillance data.

The original number of tweets under review were 214,784 and it was reasonable to filter down these tweets first by removing identical tweets and then near identical tweets at a 60% threshold. After this a 10% sample of the remaining tweets were taken (n=7679).

Eight themes across the study emerge from the two days of data. These were than used along with Twitter’s advance search feature to see if the themes were present across the outbreak of January 2009 to November 2009.

Going forward it would be interesting to see if the themes highlighted in the 2009 Swine Flu outbreak also goes across other worldwide health emergencies such as the 2014 Ebola outbreak (or other national health emergencies). It would also be interesting to see where the interest in an outbreak appears to peak on Twitter or google compared to clinical data around a disease peak. How this data might then be used by governments and health organisations to disseminate information to a worried public would also be of interest.

So What?

This article does highlight to me how twitter and possible other social media platforms can be used to research public perceptions. Linked into concerns around fake news it is important for library staff to understand the positive and negative issues of social media and that research can give us insights into how it is used on an international and more local level. I could see how this type of research could be used to investigate other parts of the profession and especially how it might work for areas within health librarianship. What would have been helpful is a more detailed methods section, but I think there is enough information to give a way forward.

Now What?

I think the work around health literacy within the NHS in England may well be an interesting area to undertake this type of research. Finding out how library staff are reacting to this work, also interested organisations and how members of the public are also interacting with this work. Pulling out the themes of these interactions would allow for more nuanced support as the work goes forward. Taking this research forward would rely on support from the centre around funding and specialist skills which may well be limited in the short term but might be more possible in the medium to long term. We will just have to wait and see.

Catherine McLaren. LKS Development Manager; Library & Knowledge Services and Technology Enhanced Learning, HEE Midlands and East. @cmmclaren


Comments are open!

 

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Journal clubbing – beyond saints, spies and salespeople

I had been planning to read this article on analogies for liaison roles since it came out so was pleased it was selected for my work journal club

BEYOND SAINTS, SPIES AND SALESPEOPLE: NEW ANALOGIES FOR LIBRARY LIAISON PROGRAMMES – Peter Barr and Anthea Tucker – In the Library with the Lead Pipe 19 Sep 2018

Working in a functionally aligned service it is always interesting to see how others experiences tally with ours.  Locally we have also done a great deal of work around things like Customer Service Excellence so debates around the language of the market in HE are ones we have thought about a fair bit (to the point where I spoke at an event we organised on the student as customer).  We had common experiences with the authors about needing to explain a new role within a functional model and the difficulty other departments could have in understanding this.  Looking at the website for their service it seems they retained some aspects of the traditional subject liaison role that I am not sure this was significant.  In contrast to the authors experience we did not experience a drawing away from the other functional teams.  While it has not always been easy there has been concerted work to bring teams closer together with part of the role locally specifically focussed on liaison internal to the service.

The article considers a range of analogies that have been used to help explain the role of liaison staff and suggests some other possibilities.  It was interesting to see how comfortable people were with these or not and we considered a few alternatives (the fixer perhaps).  I liked the idea of selling being not just about commercial imperatives but also “to convince of the worth of” this tallies with the strong thrust around impact and advocacy in NHS libraries.  There was a somewhat adversarial position taken that viewed sales as purely negative when there is scope for us to work with suppliers in more positive ways – they have things we want to buy and an interest in developing the use of resources (I recognise not all relationships will be positive).

I was glad the article came down ultimately to building and presenting our professional identity as librarians.  We can learn a great deal from the way other people go about their work but we should be strong in our own professional base.

 

 

Journal Clubbing – Understanding Academics: a UX ethnographic research project at the University of York

Summer edition of my team journal club this time we read

Blake, M. and V. Gallimore (2018). “Understanding academics: a UX ethnographic research project at the University of York.” New Review of Academic Librarianship: 1-25.

I picked this article as I was interested both in the methods used and the potential findings.  I lead on UX work and Uni of York consistently do interesting things in the liaison and engagement sphere so this was an easy one to select.

Overall it left us wanting more.  The methodology section was very light and did not address a number of questions that would have been useful to support the article.  There is no detail of the recruitment strategy or of the semi structured interview schedule for example.  We wanted to know more about the cognitive maps and it would have been great to see a bit of these. While we know that new contacts were made we do not know to what extent the data were gathered from already friendly faces.  They would at least have been sufficiently well disposed towards the library to engage in an extended interview exercise.

The description of academic lives was felt interesting but not surprising. We did wonder if there was a nervousness in writing something that would be published and visible to the interviewees given the emphasis on relationship building.  Generally we wanted to push further into the questions.  A colleague had recently attended a “secret life of an academic” talk where a number of important topics were discussed that have not surfaced in the article at all.  We wondered about the absence of research data management from a library perspective.

Finally we wanted to know more about the changes that had resulted.  This was clearly a major undertaking and the need to see impact from this was felt imperative.  The section on how the data was used to generate user requirement for a change of Reading List software would have been brilliant to read – how did they do this? what difference did it make versus what was known already? etc.

Having said all this – it was a good article for our journal club prompting lots of discussion.  We had useful thoughts on what we might want to know from academics and how we might ask them.  And colleagues at York definitely have expertise and experience we would value!

 

 

On reading – Frugal Innovation

When I started in libraries a couple of years ago (ahem) I thought we were pretty stretched budget wise.  It turns out I started in a period of relative plenty for NHS libraries with a relative flood of cash coming into the system.  Despite that we were always trying to see how to make the money go further while dealing with the expanding possibilities from all things tech.

And here we are now – pressure on the money we have, not a lot of money in prospect, ever growing demands and possibilities.  So what to do?

I saw a positive review of “Frugal Innovation – how to do better with less” (2016) Radjou, N. & Prabhu, J. so thought it might be worth a read (you can check out the brief version and watch the TED Talk if you like).

The book is heavily based in the corporate world but is useful for all that.  There are a wealth of case studies included which help illustrate successes (but not much talk of failures that I recall).  The authors identify six principles for frugal innovation that I will consider in a library context.

Principle 1 – engage and iterate

I think there is a lot of potential for libraries here.  A big part is how we can become more agile.  Smaller NHS libraries have a real advantage here. A small team working in a manageable sized organisation can rapidly take an idea from light bulb moment to launch (provided it doesn’t cost too much money!).  I loved working like this and always enjoy seeing people doing things like this in the Sally Hernando awards.  My experience is that this kind of agility is definitely harder to drive in the much larger services found in a university environment.

We are increasingly active in seeking (and gaining) engagement with the users of our services. This can only be to the benefit of the service.  We are not our users and the more we can understand their motivations, needs and world the stronger the chance of us innovating towards them.  UX work is making great progress with understanding the library in the life of the user.

Principle 2 – flex your assets

A lot of the examples in this chapter are from manufacturing.  Sharing resources is a path libraries have long pursued and there may be yet more mileage to go.  We could consider also how we can improve our supply chain. Big academic services still buy a lot of stuff so there must be potential to work better with suppliers to direct this.

In many cases libraries have a significant amount of prime space and there have been some good initiatives aimed at bringing related activities into that space to drive better uptake of evidence resources and services.  How might we package our services differently to bring them closer to the people who need them?

Principle 3 – develop sustainable solutions

Improving our sustainability can have positive impacts.  For manufacturers they can turn waste products into other products or find others who need to buy them.  There are markets for our used books (though most things are only fit for pulp when we have finished with them).  Encouraging reduced use of plastic can have an impact on our waste bills.  Sustainability is also a big driver for many of our staff and can create real engagement around thinking about how we might encourage reduced use of paper for example.

Principle 4 – shape customer behaviour

There are some interesting ideas here about gamification and visualisation.  These cna be used to encourage positive behaviours.  Currently peoples data is quite locked up in our systems – could we provide ways for people to understand the pattern of research they carried out with our tools?  Another area where we might find interesting lessons is around the use of social pressure.  With pressure on study space at peak times we might explore ways to encourage good citizenship.

Principle 5 – co create value with prosumers

This should be a great one for libraries as once you strip away the awful prosumers term you are talking about building relationships with engaged library users to create champions.  NICE Evidence champions have been an effective means to support peer to peer teaching and building expertise in the user base has the potential to greatly extend our reach.  Perhaps there is the scope to bring more people into our teams in loose ways?  Can we power up the PDNs or rope in the pharmacists?

Principle 6 – make innovative friends

We could all do with more friends.  It would be great to see a more systematic approach to using the good stuff in the Sally Hernando Awards.  We should also look at working our way into the Academy of Fab Stuff (I know some are already there) as this will put us in touch with people who are moving things forward and looking to improve.  Working through networks is the norm for NHS libraries in particular and I would argue that this is the base for hyper collaboration options.  It would be good to see us getting more interesting people involved with improving library interfaces.

All in all this was an interesting book.  The business orientation is a bit of a barrier but the ideas shine through.  Time to do more with less again!

 

 

 

On reading – Libraries and Key Performance Indicators (2017) Appleton

One of the fun things I did last year was contribute a case study based on my work with the KfH Metrics Task and Finish Group to the book “Libraries and key performance indicators: a framework for practitioners” by Leo Appleton.

Cover of book

I was really pleased to have the opportunity to share our work in this way and to get my name in print!

Prompted by reading a review of the book (in the December issue of the HLG Newsletter) and by an upcoming workshop I am preparing for health librarians in the North I thought I would have a read myself.

It is a compact book at 150 or so pages including references.  I think brevity has a lot to recommend it in a practical text and this could be dipped into or read completely fairly quickly.  It covers a lot of ground in a short time including a useful review of past efforts at performance management in library services and the influence of current trends around user experience approaches.  There are a number of examples from different library sectors which is useful for widening the perspective.

There were areas where I would differ – for example around the amount of confidence that can be placed in the various statistical return series.  Changes are coming to the long standing NHS statistics return reflecting careful consideration of how useful a number of these measures are in practice – particularly given likely variation in collection.

The chapters on methods provide good overviews with references to follow up. The librarian tendency to count anything that moves has been exacerbated by the opportunities offered by digital resources to do this and the book is good on tempering this enthusiasm.  I would perhaps have liked more on how to manage a regular flow of qualitative data in such a way as to support KPIs.  A contribution to a bundle of performance indicators across a single KPI perhaps?

Terminology is a bit of a muddle and I found myself confused at times about what was being referred to.  A definition of a KPI is provided but merits clearer flagging.  While there were a lot of excellent warnings about potential pitfalls and dead ends I wonder if more could be done to highlight the positive ways forward?  The various case studies were useful in providing some idea of how people have been able to advance with this work.

It was a relief to read my case study in context and I think it makes a useful contribution to the book. The principles advanced in the NHS Metrics work are widely applicable and certainly supported by the wider research presented in the book.

Having declared my bias up front – I think this is a useful book and I hope people will read it!

Journal Clubbing – Subject vs functional

A new round of our team journal club.  This time some reading looking at different models for delivering liaison in academic libraries.

Subject vs. functional: Should subject librarians be replaced by functional specialists in academic libraries?

Catherine Hoodless, Stephen Pinfield


Journal of Librarianship and Information Science

First Published June 15, 2016
This was a good paper for prompting discussion in our group.  Locally we are operating in a functional model so it is helpful to have a picture of practice and motivation elsewhere.
The researchers carried out semi-structured interviews with 11 senior library managers in the UK.  Opinion was divided amongst them as to which was the right path to take. Unsurprisingly their view tended to reflect whether they had undertaken a shift to a functional model or not.
The drivers for change felt familiar and prompted discussion of how important consistency was.  Subject librarians are like clinical librarians in that they are an expensive resource in limited supply with the potential to create big variations in level of service provision according to degree of involvement.  Strategic targeting of this resource is always going to be required.  The significant growth in HE over recent years is a big pressure on what sort of service can be offered to all.
The article shows evidence of how the models tend to get fudged with a continuum of activity.  Setting boundaries is a challenge in an emerging model. Role holders are generally getting to grips with a revised role rather than coming in to it fresh which must also have an impact.
As ever I found myself wanting to read more research on the effectiveness and impact of the different models.

Beyond authority – beyond late

Where is the time going?  Without the discipline of the CILIP Update backlog and with other competing priorities this blog has been something of a ghost town.

The academic year is also fast approaching it’s end and there are a number of tasks still to complete for the PDR.

One of those was to consider the book Beyond Authority: leadership in a changing world (2007) Julia Middleton.

I had picked this out as addressing a particular challenge for me in my leadership role in that I currently operate with no direct reports.  For my service to improve I need to affect change but this has to happen by working through partners, with limited funds and with people who I do not have particular authority over.

The book itself considers how leaders can operate beyond the traditional forms of authority granted by position or control of funds.  It considers how circles of authority relate to your place in your wider organisation and society in general.  When we move into the outer circles we need to lead beyond authority.  My role places me frequently in this position. Indeed I can feel like I am outside my circle much of the time while working to deliver a service for one sector from within another and as the employee of an external organisation with those I frequently work with most closely.

Key sources of power when operating in the outer circle are identified as communication / networks followed by personality and ideas.  It has certainly been my experience that good ideas will win people over but that you need to get a lot of people on board for them then to advance.

The book explores different roles for those leading beyond authority.  I am attempting to be a transformer in driving change and the book is useful in highlighting the potential to be used as a useful idiot or expert idiot.

The bulk of the book considers what is required to lead beyond authority.  I was generally encouraged by these. Elements around the right approach fitting my perception of my character.  People are key and it is important for me to build my networks but also to get outside my professional bubble.  The right methods section was where I have most work to do – this is about the long game but particularly about building strategic coalitions.  To do this a clear strategic message is vital.  Having been introduced to Strategy on a page as part of my NHS Leadership programme it seems a good place to start.

All in all a worthwhile read – I suspect that even those who feel they operate firmly within their own organisation and with the ability to direct a team to achieve their strategic goals would benefit from considering how they might reach out and work effectively beyond the library bubble.