The research—by the University of York in collaboration with the University of Pennsylvania—conducted on social media feeds also showed that this belief could lead to people changing their dosage depending on what they had or were about to eat.
The research was conducted in order to understand more about people’s attitudes or beliefs towards statins which are prescribed as a means of reducing the risk of heart attacks and stroke.
Researchers focused on social media as a less intrusive way to find out more about people’s attitudes to statins—rather than talking directly to patients about their behaviour and reasons.
The team read and analysed more than 11,000 posts from Twitter where a statin was mentioned over a period of five years. Of these, around half were related to associated health issues with 21 per cent discussing beliefs around taking statins and seven per cent talking about side effects. Many of the posts were identified as a statin user or as someone who knows a statin user, or a health professional.
Of the over 1,000 posts analysed which focused on beliefs around medication, 72 per cent of the opinions or beliefs referred to risk compensation behaviours in which patients engage in behaviours such as poor diet and physical inactivity perceiving themselves to be “protected” or at lower risk by virtue of taking preventative medications.
A further 11 per cent were in relation to the user’s own behaviour such as the freedom to eat an unhealthy diet. One post read; “with Lipitor [type of statin] I eat as much bacon and cookies as I want” and others talked of increasing their dose of statins after unhealthy food.
Dr. Su Golder, from the Department of Health Sciences, said: “We know that many people do not take their statins as