ComArtSci’s Dr. Young Anna Argyris (PI) and Dr. Michael Stern (Co-I) were recently awarded an R21 grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to study how vaccine misinformation affects COVID-19, flu, and HPV immunization rates. The team will develop a public barometer of the quality and quantity of vaccine debates on social media and explore the impact of that debate on public health.
"This project is innovative because it proposes a robust co-teaching framework for addressing potentially noisy human annotations of vaccine posts. It also proposes a statistical modeling technique that involves heterogenous metrics obtained from a multi-method approach for hypothesis testing,” said Dr. Argyris. “These innovations are timely and urgent as the current time presents a rare opportunity to identify the impact of vaccine debate on public health during the onset of a global pandemic,” continued Dr. Argyris. “The expected outcomes are significant because it will provide a methodological breakthrough in uncovering the reasoning behind vaccine-refusals.”
Joining Dr. Argyris and Dr. Stern on the grant are Pang-Ning Tan (MPI) from the College of Science and Engineering at MSU, Jiying Ling (Co-I) from the College of Nursing at MSU, Robert Jacobsen (consultant) of the Mayo Clinic, and Nada Ganesh (consultant) of NORC at the University of Chicago. The grant ($348,310) supports two years of research (August 2021 to July 2023).
The project team will collect one million social media posts and develop a deep learning algorithm to identify and classify pro- and anti-vaccine posts. They will then pair the results of social media data analysis with algorithm surveys of U.S. adults to better understand the impact of the vaccine debate on public health outcomes.
“I am glad to have received this award because the expected outcomes from this project will have a direct positive impact on public health,” said Dr. Argyris. “I have been conducting research on vaccine hesitancy since 2018, so this award will expand and further enable my research activities.”
By Joe Strother