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Papers of the Week

Papers: 18 Mar 2023 - 24 Mar 2023

Education, Psychology, Social Aspects, Translational

Human Studies, In Silico Studies


2023 Mar 21

Sci Rep




Machine learning algorithms distinguish discrete digital emotional fingerprints for web pages related to back pain.


Caldo D, Bologna S, Conte L, Amin MS, Anselma L, Basile V, Hossain MM, Mazzei A, Heritier P, Ferracini R, Kon E, De Nunzio G


Back pain is the leading cause of disability worldwide. Its emergence relates not only to the musculoskeletal degeneration biological substrate but also to psychosocial factors; emotional components play a pivotal role. In modern society, people are significantly informed by the Internet; in turn, they contribute social validation to a “successful” digital information subset in a dynamic interplay. The Affective component of medical pages has not been previously investigated, a significant gap in knowledge since they represent a critical biopsychosocial feature. We tested the hypothesis that successful pages related to spine pathology embed a consistent emotional pattern, allowing discrimination from a control group. The pool of web pages related to spine or hip/knee pathology was automatically selected by relevance and popularity and submitted to automated sentiment analysis to generate emotional patterns. Machine Learning (ML) algorithms were trained to predict page original topics from patterns with binary classification. ML showed high discrimination accuracy; disgust emerged as a discriminating emotion. The findings suggest that the digital affective “successful content” (collective consciousness) integrates patients’ biopsychosocial ecosystem, with potential implications for the emergence of chronic pain, and the endorsement of health-relevant specific behaviors. Awareness of such effects raises practical and ethical issues for health information providers.