A Determinants-of-Fertility Ontology for Detecting Future Signals of Fertility Issues From Social Media Data: Development of an Ontology
Journal of Medical Internet Research
South Korea has the lowest fertility rate in the world despite considerable governmental efforts to boost it. Increasing the fertility rate and achieving the desired outcomes of any implemented policies requires reliable data on the ongoing trends in fertility and preparations for the future based on these trends. Objective The aims of this study were to (1) develop a determinants-of-fertility ontology with terminology for collecting and analyzing social media data; (2) determine the
... logics, content coverage, and structural and representational layers of the ontology; and (3) use the ontology to detect future signals of fertility issues. Methods An ontology was developed using the Ontology Development 101 methodology. The domain and scope of the ontology were defined by compiling a list of competency questions. The terms were collected from Korean government reports, Korea's Basic Plan for Low Fertility and Aging Society, a national survey about marriage and childbirth, and social media postings on fertility issues. The classes and their hierarchy were defined using a top-down approach based on an ecological model. The internal structure of classes was defined using the entity-attribute-value model. The description logics of the ontology were evaluated using Protégé (version 5.5.0), and the content coverage was evaluated by comparing concepts extracted from social media posts with the list of ontology classes. The structural and representational layers of the ontology were evaluated by experts. Social media data were collected from 183 online channels between January 1, 2011, and June 30, 2015. To detect future signals of fertility issues, 2 classes of the ontology, the socioeconomic and cultural environment, and public policy, were identified as keywords. A keyword issue map was constructed, and the defined keywords were mapped to identify future signals. R software (version 3.5.2) was used to mine for future signals. Results A determinants-of-fertility ontology comprised 236 classes and terminology comprised 1464 synonyms of the 236 classes. Concept classes in the ontology were found to be coherently and consistently defined. The ontology included more than 90% of the concepts that appeared in social media posts on fertility policies. Average scores for all of the criteria for structural and representations layers exceeded 4 on a 5-point scale. Violence and abuse (socioeconomic and cultural factor) and flexible working arrangement (fertility policy) were weak signals, suggesting that they could increase rapidly in the future. Conclusions The determinants-of-fertility ontology developed in this study can be used as a framework for collecting and analyzing social media data on fertility issues and detecting future signals of fertility issues. The future signals identified in this study will be useful for policy makers who are developing policy responses to low fertility.