IU School of Nursing and ChaCha partner to conduct interdisciplinary Big-Data research about health and wellness

  • Feb. 2, 2015

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

INDIANAPOLIS -- Indiana University School of Nursing and ChaCha have joined in a partnership to provide Indiana University researchers access to anonymous,
de-identified questions from the ChaCha question and answer service in order to better understand a variety of health and cultural topics.

 The unique nature of the ChaCha data, composed entirely of questions submitted by users on a wide range of subjects from 2009 to 2012, will provide researchers with unparalleled access to the public’s questions about health and wellness.

 The data-sharing agreement has led to the creation of the Social Network Health Research Lab at Indiana University School of Nursing on the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis campus. It is an interdisciplinary laboratory composed of researchers from the IU schools of nursing, informatics and computing, and liberal arts. Leveraging the advanced computing methods available at Indiana University, the lab’s initial projects will involve mining the ChaCha data set to understand how ChaCha users ask about health and wellness.

 “This extraordinary partnership with ChaCha will allow IU researchers to amplify the patient voice in understanding health conditions," said Chad Priest, Social Network Health Research Lab director and principal investigator. "We will be able to match anonymous social network information with aggregate health outcomes to map health-related dialogue occurring through social media networks.” 

 Michael T. Weaver, interim dean of the IU School of Nursing, sees endless possibilities for informing health care. “As researchers focused on improving the quality of life and care of our patients, the ability to understand health-related issues from the patient’s perspective is a unique opportunity. We have the potential to determine which health topics are of greatest concern, what outcomes are most desirable, and how patients view particular treatments and practices. These data have potentially great economic and health care implications.”

 “Our massive data sets are uniquely able to provide insight into many types of linguistic patterns and user behavior,” ChaCha CEO Scott Jones said. “We are extremely happy to be able to work with IU School of Nursing to create this new lab.”

 “We want to use a data set as large as this one to improve population health on a very large scale,” said Janet S. Carpenter, associate dean for research at IU School of Nursing. "That’s a very exciting new vista to explore, and along with improved health and the ability to expand IU School of Nursing’s research into new areas, it also means more jobs for Hoosiers."

 “Discovering usable information from the ChaCha text data poses an interesting and exciting Big Data challenge in informatics utilizing natural language processing (text mining),” said Mathew Palakal, executive associate dean and professor  in the School of Informatics and Computing. "Researchers require real-time exploration of the data, and hence, complex text-mining algorithms based on Hadoop computing platforms will be developed in order to facilitate active research on the ChaCha data."

 The interdisciplinary project includes co-investigators from many IU schools: Jeff Wilson from liberal arts (geography); Mathew Palakal and Anand Krishnan with informatics; and Chad Priest, Janet Carpenter, Wendy Miller, Julie Otte, Mulubrhan Mogos and Doyle Groves from nursing.

 ChaCha is the leading source for free, real-time Q&A and is one of the fastest-growing mobile and online publishers. According to comScore and Quantcast, ChaCha is a Top 100 website and a Top 10 mobile site. In a recent study conducted by Butler University, ChaCha ranked No. 1 in terms of accuracy against all other Q&A services, including Siri, Google, Ask.com and Quora. Through its unique "ask-a-smart-friend" platform, ChaCha has answered more than 2 billion questions since launch in 2008.

 IU School of Nursing is one of the largest nursing schools in the nation. Ranked 13th among schools and colleges of nursing for National Institutes of Health funding, the school boasts a robust program of research focused on managing chronic illness and its symptoms, healthy behaviors, end-of-life care and nursing education. A full 40 percent of Indiana’s nurses are IU School of Nursing alumni. Programs include three undergraduate options, eight tracks in the master’s program, post-master’s options, a Ph.D. in nursing science, a DNP and continuing education opportunities. U.S. News & World Report ranked the graduate programs 15th in its 2014 Best Graduate School rankings, with adult clinical nurse specialist ranked third.

 Founded in 2000 as the first school of its kind in the United States, the Indiana University School of Informatics and Computing is dedicated to research and teaching across a broad range of computing and information technology, with emphasis on science, applications and societal implications. The school's programs include computer science, informatics, and information and library science. The school, which includes locations at Bloomington and IUPUI, administers a variety of bachelor’s, master’s and Ph.D. programs, including the first-ever Ph.D. in informatics. The school is dedicated to excellence in education and research, to partnerships that bolster economic development and entrepreneurship, and to increasing opportunities for women and underrepresented minorities in computing and technology.

Sally Krause