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Currently submitted to: JMIR Formative Research

Date Submitted: Mar 3, 2020
(currently open for review)

Warning: This is an author submission that is not peer-reviewed or edited. Preprints - unless they show as "accepted" - should not be relied on to guide clinical practice or health-related behavior and should not be reported in news media as established information.

RepPer: Perception of Psychiatric Disorders on Twitter in French

  • Sarah Delanys; 
  • Farah Benamara; 
  • Véronique Moriceau; 
  • François Olivier; 
  • Josiane Mothe; 



With the advent of digital technology and specifically user generated contents in social media, new ways emerged for studying possible stigma of people in relation with mental health. Several pieces of work studied the discourse conveyed about psychiatric pathologies on Twitter considering mostly tweets in English and a limited number of psychiatric disorders terms. This paper proposes the first study to analyze the use of a wide range of psychiatric terms in tweets in French.


Our aim is to study how generic, nosographic and therapeutic psychiatric terms are used on Twitter in French. More specifically, our study has three complementary goals: (1) to analyze the types of psychiatric word use namely medical, misuse, irrelevant, (2) to analyze the polarity conveyed in the tweets that use these terms (positive/negative/neural), and (3) to compare the frequency of these terms to those observed in related work (mainly in English ).


Our study has been conducted on a corpus of tweets in French posted between 01/01/2016 to 12/31/2018 and collected using dedicated keywords. The corpus has been manually annotated by clinical psychiatrists following a multilayer annotation scheme that includes the type of word use and the opinion orientation of the tweet. Two analysis have been performed. First a qualitative analysis to measure the reliability of the produced manual annotation, then a quantitative analysis considering mainly term frequency in each layer and exploring the interactions between them.


One of the first result is a resource as an annotated dataset . The initial dataset is composed of 22,579 tweets in French containing at least one of the selected psychiatric terms. From this set, experts in psychiatry randomly annotated 3,040 tweets that corresponds to the resource resulting from our work. The second result is the analysis of the annotations; it shows that terms are misused in 45.3% of the tweets and that their associated polarity is negative in 86.2% of the cases. When considering the three types of term use, 59.5% of the tweets are associated to a negative polarity. Misused terms related to psychotic disorders (55.5%) are more frequent to those related to mood disorders (26.5%).


Some psychiatric terms are misused in the corpora we studied; which is consistent with the results reported in related work in other languages. Thanks to the great diversity of studied terms, this work highlighted a disparity in the representations and ways of using psychiatric terms. Moreover, our study is important to help psychiatrists to be aware of the term use in new communication media such as social networks which are widely used. This study has the huge advantage to be reproducible thanks to the framework and guidelines we produced; so that the study could be renewed in order to analyze the evolution of term usage. While the newly build dataset is a valuable resource for other analytical studies, it could also serve to train machine learning algorithms to automatically identify stigma in social media.


Please cite as:

Delanys S, Benamara F, Moriceau V, Olivier F, Mothe J

RepPer: Perception of Psychiatric Disorders on Twitter in French

JMIR Preprints. 03/03/2020:18539

DOI: 10.2196/18539


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