Public Health Monitoring


PGP is the only organization that harnesses all of media’s big data (television, radio, print news and magazines, online news, video, blogs, and social media) specifically for public health and healthcare.  PGP provides HISTORICAL, real-time, and predictive analytics across multiple topics of public health concern. 



Topics of concern to public health and healthcare are extremely complex.  PGP has developed a methodology that reliably generates evidence-based insights, while remaining nimble enough to account for the complexities and uniqueness of every issue.

PGP's public health monitoring programs follow these steps:

  • A formal academic literature review collects everything known on a topic from public health, healthcare, and other fields.

  • Subject matter experts are recruited to verify findings.

  • Public and private partner organizations are consulted to better understand the real-world context of a topic.

  • Findings from literature reviews and consultations are operationalized in the form of queries, or analyses.

  • It typically takes 3-4 months before a monitoring program can generate actionable insights. During this time, PGP analysts perform hundreds of refinements and verifications.

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Below are three examples of PGP's ongoing public health monitoring to illustrate the insights our systems and methods can generate.

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Mental Health

Partner: Kaiser Permanente

Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to reducing the stigma of mental health conditions.  Working with Kaiser's mental health experts and Community Health office, PGP has built the capability to report the American public's conceptualization of mental health stigma.  

This reporting is ongoing, with insights including:

  • Narratives about mental health differ state by state.

  • Depression is the most commonly referenced condition.

  • People with Schizophrenia are often referenced as being inherently dangerous.

  • People's personal experiences are the most common way mental health is referenced on social media. In mainstream media, the causes of mental health conditions are more common.

  • Self-harm is a dominant narrative within social media, and is more commonly associated with depression than other conditions.

  • Overtly stigmatizing behavior, or messages, are not as common in social and traditional media as one might imagine. Rather, unintentionally stigmatizing behavior or language is more common. For example, journalists not adhering to AP guidelines for reporting on mental health contributes to stigmatizing social norms.

  • Within each state, there are individuals on social media that have as much impact on the conversation about mental health as traditional news outlets.

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Opioid Crisis

Partners: Facebook, Google

Facebook, and Google have each partnered with PGP to provide public health authorities with better information to respond to the evolving opioid epidemic. PGP has also relied on data from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to provide public health authorities with better information to respond to the evolving opioid epidemic.

This reporting is ongoing, with insights including:

  • The public does not use or understand the term "opioid."

  • Rural communities consume information and speak about the opioid crisis differently than urban communities.

  • 18-24 year olds do not appear to have been reached by prevention messaging.

  • Adults over the age of 45 understand the opioid epidemic predominantly as it relates to chronic pain and public policy.

  • Across the U.S., the public places blame for the crisis on medical providers and the pharmaceutical industry.

  • The dominant narrative of the epidemic is of a policy debate.

  • The public receives little messaging on the role of individuals and communities, what they have done to help, or what they can do. This is disempowering and most likely reducing self-efficacy.

  • Public health and policymakers are the only sources speaking about the link between the epidemic and heroin and fentanyl.

  • Individuals' search behavior changes as they progress from first use of an opioid to addiction to treatment, and this behavior is predictable.

  • Localized, personally relevant messages are critical but rare.

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Sugar-Sweetened Beverages

Partner: Nicholson Foundation

Interest in public health interventions to reduce consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB's) is growing.  PGP partnered with The Nicholson Foundation to better understand the landscape of SSB messaging, both for and against.

This reporting is ongoing, with insights including:

  • Hispanic and Latino audiences engage with beverage brands differently than other populations.

  • There is widespread confusion about the relative healthiness of diet beverages.

  • Fruit juices are perceived to be healthy.

  • Consumers generally view soda taxes and fees negatively.

  • Dental health is commonly referenced as a negative health effect of SSB's.

  • Real sugar is perceived to be healthier than artificial sweeteners.

  • Sports drinks are associated with health and fitness, and are therefore perceived as healthier.

  • Water is being offered as the main alternative to SSB's.

  • Teens view soda and energy drinks as an alternative to coffee.

  • Alcohol or spirits are often referenced with SSB's, favorably, usually in relation to mixed drinks or cocktails.

  • There is skepticism among the public regarding the impact of SSB taxes and fees on obesity.

  • 94% of the total volume of hashtags related to soda taxes have occured within the last five years. Twitter is 12 years old.


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PGP is proud to be partnered with Zignal Labs.  Zignal's centralized platform powers a portion of PGP's system, and its technicians have worked with PGP's analysts to re-engineer tools built for brand health into tools for public health.