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Associations between exposure to and expression of negative opinions about human papillomavirus vaccines on social media: An observational study

International Literature

posted by WM Admin on 11 June 2015

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International

In this study, the authors investigated whether exposure to negative opinions about human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines in Twitter communities is associated with the subsequent expression of negative opinions by explicitly measuring potential information exposure over the social structure of Twitter communities.

They hypothesised that prior exposure to opinions rejecting the safety or value of HPV vaccines would be associated with an increased risk of posting similar opinions and tested this hypothesis by analysing temporal sequences of messages posted on Twitter (tweets).

The study design was a retrospective analysis of tweets related to HPV vaccines and the social connections between users. Between October 2013 and April 2014, they collected 83,551 English-language tweets that included terms related to HPV vaccines and the 957,865 social connections among 30,621 users posting or reposting the tweets. Tweets were classified as expressing negative or neutral/positive opinions using a machine learning classifier previously trained on a manually labeled sample.

The authors conclude from their analysis that the heterogeneous community structure on Twitter appears to skew the information to which users are exposed in relation to HPV vaccines. They found that among users that tweeted about HPV vaccines, those who were more often exposed to negative opinions were more likely to subsequently post negative opinions. They go on to say that, although this research may be useful for identifying individuals and groups currently at risk of disproportionate exposure to misinformation about HPV vaccines, there is a clear need for studies capable of determining the factors that affect the formation and adoption of beliefs about public health interventions.

This is an open access article and can be read in free full text at:  http://doi.org/10.2196/jmir.4343

Dunn AG, Leask J, Zhou X, Mandl KD, Coiera E (2015). Associations between exposure to and expression of negative opinions about human papillomavirus vaccines on social media: An observational study. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 17(6), e144.