Currently accepted at: JMIR Mental Health
Date Submitted: Sep 14, 2017
Open Peer Review Period: Jan 3, 2018 - Oct 25, 2017
Date Accepted: Dec 16, 2017
(closed for review but you can still tweet)
Ethical Issues in Addressing Social Media Posts About Suicidal Intentions During an Online Study Among Youth: Case Study
Due to the popularity of social media, researchers are increasingly conducting studies that monitor and analyze peopleâ€™s health-related social media conversations. Because social media users can post about any topic at any time, no known best ethical practices exist as to whether and how to monitor participantsâ€™ posts for safety-related issues that might be unrelated to the study, such as expressions of suicidal intentions. This is a case study during a social media-based study on sleep and activity among freshman undergraduate students, where we by chance noticed that a student was using social media to express suicidal intentions. Although we connected the student to student psychological services in order to receive treatment, we encountered a number of barriers that initially prevented this from occurring, such as institutional review board and regulatory practices related to lack of experience with these newer types of studies. We discuss the implications of this experience for future research.
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