Assistant Professor Jessie Chin has received a $389,810 grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to identify false information about the HPV vaccine and model its impact on risk perceptions.
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the U.S., with over 34,000 new HPV-related cancers diagnosed annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. An HPV vaccine, which was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2006, is recommended as part of routine vaccinations for school-aged children. However, the vaccine's uptake remains low in part because of incorrect perceptions of vaccination risks, which has been linked to the spread of false information about the vaccine.
"I've been working on how to promote an accurate comprehension of health information among adults with varying degrees of health literacy. While people with inadequate health literacy are vulnerable to health misinformation, people with adequate health literacy may also fail to identify health misinformation, especially when it has been delivered from known social connections," Chin said of how the project originated.
Chin and her collaborators from the University of Illinois at Chicago and University of Chicago will build a model to identify false HPV-vaccine information on Twitter and demonstrate its impact on individual risk perceptions.
"We propose a novel approach to leverage machine learning, natural language processing, network analysis, crowdsourcing/expert data annotation, psycholinguistic analysis, and statistical modeling to investigate the false HPV-vaccine information collectively (in terms of its detection and propagation patterns) and individually (in terms of its impact and underlying cognitive mechanisms)," she said.
According to Chin, the project's findings will provide important contributions toward understanding the impact of false health information on HPV vaccination behavior and could be expanded to other health topics. The project will also address the National Cancer Institute priorities in promoting HPV vaccines and combating misinformation in cancer prevention and control.
Chin holds a BS in psychology from National Taiwan University, an MS in human factors, and a PhD in educational psychology with a focus on cognitive science in teaching and learning from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.