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Application of Automated Text Analysis to Examine Emotions Expressed in Online Support Groups for Quitting Smoking.

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Online support groups offer social support and an outlet for expressing emotions when dealing with health-related challenges. This study examines whether automated text analysis of emotional expressions using Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC) can identify emotions related to abstinence expressed in online support groups for quitting smoking, suggesting promise for offering targeted mood management to members. The emotional expressions in 1 month of posts by members of 36 online support groups were related to abstinence at month end. Using the available LIWC dictionary, posts were scored for overall positive emotions, overall negative emotions, anxiety, anger, sadness, and an upbeat emotional tone. Greater expressions of negative emotions, and specifically anxiety, related to nonabstinence, while a more upbeat emotional tone related to abstinence. The results indicate that automated text analysis can identify emotions expressed in online support groups for quitting smoking and enable targeted delivery of mood management to group members.

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