Journal of Management Information Systems

Volume 38 Number 1 2021 pp. 166-195

Unveiling the Hidden Truth of Drug Addiction: A Social Media Approach Using Similarity Network-Based Deep Learning

Xie, Jiaheng, Zhang, Zhu, Liu, Xiao, and Zeng, Daniel


Opioid use disorder (OUD) is an epidemic that costs the U.S. healthcare systems $504 billion annually and poses grave mortality risks. Existing studies investigated OUD treatment barriers via surveys as a means to mitigate this opioid crisis. However, the response rate of these surveys is low due to social stigma around opioids. We explore user-generated content in social media as a new data source to study OUD. We design a novel IT system, SImilarity Network-based DEep Learning (SINDEL), to discover OUD treatment barriers from patient narratives and address the challenge of morphs. SINDEL significantly outperforms state-of-the-art NLP models, reaching an F1 score of 76.79 percent. Thirteen types of treatment barriers were identified and verified by domain experts. This work contributes to information systems with a novel deep-learning-based approach for text analytics and generalized design principles for social media analytics methods. We also unveil the hurdles patients endure during the opioid epidemic.

Key words and phrases: Computational design science, deep learning, social media analytics, health IT, HealthTech, opioid addiction, addiction treatment