Leveraging Online Shopping Behaviors as a Proxy for Personal Lifestyle Choices: New Insights into Chronic Disease Prevention Literacy

29 Apr 2021  ·  Yongzhen Wang, Xiaozhong Liu, Katy Börner, Jun Lin, Yingnan Ju, Changlong Sun, Luo Si ·

Objective: Ubiquitous internet access is reshaping the way we live, but it is accompanied by unprecedented challenges in preventing chronic diseases that are usually planted by long exposure to unhealthy lifestyles. This paper proposes leveraging online shopping behaviors as a proxy for personal lifestyle choices to improve chronic disease prevention literacy, targeted for times when e-commerce user experience has been assimilated into most people's everyday lives... Methods: Longitudinal query logs and purchase records from 15 million online shoppers were accessed, constructing a broad spectrum of lifestyle features covering assorted product categories and buyer personas. Using the lifestyle-related information preceding their first purchases of specific prescription drugs, we could determine associations between online shoppers' past lifestyle choices and whether they suffered from a particular chronic disease or not. Results: Novel lifestyle risk factors were discovered in two exemplars -- depression and diabetes, most of which showed cognitive congruence with existing healthcare knowledge. Further, such empirical findings could be adopted to locate online shoppers at high risk of these chronic diseases with decent accuracy (i.e., [area under the receiver operating characteristic curve] AUC=0.68 for depression and AUC=0.70 for diabetes), closely matching the performance of screening surveys benchmarked against medical diagnosis. Conclusions: Mining online shopping behaviors can point medical experts to a series of lifestyle issues associated with chronic diseases that are less explored to date. Hopefully, unobtrusive chronic disease surveillance via e-commerce sites can grant consenting individuals a privilege to be connected more readily with the medical profession and sophistication. read more

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