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Sample Solutions: Facebook 'Likes' New Source of Local Health Data

Social Media Reliably Fills In Where Government Data Are Absent

BOSTON, MA -- (Marketwired - May 19, 2013) - Sample Solutions LLC., in collaboration with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), today unveiled new research based on an analysis of billions of Likes that consumers have posted on Facebook. The research, available in a white paper, shows that Likes can significantly supplement scarce government data on the behavioral drivers of cancer, diabetes, obesity and other ailments.

Sample Solutions and three representatives of the CDC presented their findings at the 68th Annual Conference of the American Association for Public Opinion Research in Boston.

Facebook data were collected using the Facebook Advertising application programming interface in February 2013, aggregating the number of users who express interest in certain categories of items by ZIP code. This ZIP code data were then aggregated to the county level to allow for direct comparisons to government health data.

The result: patterns by which Facebook users express their Likes correlate heavily with the actual presence of many serious health conditions, according to the Sample Solutions analysis, for which a patent is pending.

"There is a cry nationwide for more local data on health, particularly about the behavioral drivers of disease," said Steve Gittelman, Ph.D., president of Sample Solutions. "The few large federal consumer surveys available fail to adequately cover more than 10% of the 3,143 U.S. counties, and these surveys are expensive and burdened with limitations. As a result, most American counties don’t fully understand how they differ from each other regarding the behavioral determinants of disease and, most important, how to mitigate those differences."

According to government data, in Fayette County, Georgia, the average life expectancy is 80.6 years, while just a few hours’ drive east in Jefferson County, the average is eight years less.

The new research confirms the following:

1.Likes provide a means of categorizing communities (counties).
2.Likes can be used as an indicator of mortality.
3.Likes can be used as an indicator of disease outcomes (obesity, diabetes, chronic heart disease).
4.Likes can be used as an indicator of the behaviors that impact disease.

"Our analysis, along with additional research based on online data, will help local, state and federal governments to understand the drivers behind such disparities," said Gittelman. "Our ultimate goal is to provide actionable intelligence that directly impacts government spending and public policy at a fraction of the cost of traditional research."

About Sample Solutions LLC.

Sample Solutions LLC. is an internationally established research consulting firm known for its innovative approach to online data collection. The company is widely known for its award-winning approach to modeling sample frames. With the whole world drinking from the Big Data hose, we see it as our corporate mission to make sense out of the tide of "datafication" that drowns us. Sample Solutions LLC. and its parent company Mktg, Inc. have been in business since 1979 and are located in East Islip, New York.

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