A practical approach to exploit public data available on the Internet to study healthcare issues

Dárlinton CarvalhoWilma MadeiraMirna OkamuraCarlos LucenaSérgio Zanetta

There is an abundance of data and services publicly available on the Internet, enabling researchers to study society in new ways. However, it is challenging to conduct studies using these resources, prompting questions such as where to find good data sources and how to apply them to the study of healthcare issues. This paper introduces a practical approach for undertaking such studies. This approach has three stages: the first provides a big picture of searchable information on the Web; the second focuses on online communities, looking for discussions around topics of interest; and the last investigates deeply a specific online community reality, searching for answers to research questions. As an application example, a study is presented with results on drug abuse in Brazil.

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