Journal of Data and Information Science ›› 2021, Vol. 6 ›› Issue (1): 13-34.doi: 10.2478/jdis-2021-0007

• Research Papers • Previous Articles     Next Articles

“My ADHD Hellbrain”:A Twitter Data Science Perspective on a Behavioural Disorder

Mike Thelwall(), Meiko Makita, Amalia Mas-Bleda, Emma Stuart   

  1. Statistical Cybermetrics Research Group, University of Wolverhampton, UK
  • Received:2020-08-20 Revised:2020-09-29 Accepted:2020-10-23 Online:2021-02-20 Published:2021-01-20
  • Contact: Mike Thelwall


Purpose: Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a common behavioural condition. This article introduces a new data science method, word association thematic analysis, to investigate whether ADHD tweets can give insights into patient concerns and online communication needs.
Design/methodology/approach: Tweets matching “my ADHD” (n=58,893) and 99 other conditions (n=1,341,442) were gathered and two thematic analyses conducted. Analysis 1:A standard thematic analysis of ADHD-related tweets. Analysis 2: A word association thematic analysis of themes unique to ADHD.
Findings: The themes that emerged from the two analyses included people ascribing their brains agency to explain and justify their symptoms and using the concept of neurodivergence for a positive self-image.
Research limitations: This is a single case study and the results may differ for other topics.
Practical implications: Health professionals should be sensitive to patients’ needs to understand their behaviour, find ways to justify and explain it to others and to be positive about their condition.
Originality/value: Word association thematic analysis can give new insights into the (self-reported) patient perspective.

Key words: ADHD, Word association thematic analysis, Social behaviour, Social web, Twitter