A Drexel University study of sentiments toward the HPV vaccine on Twitter found that individuals post significantly more positive than negative tweets about vaccines, such as the value of prevention and protection.
Dr. Philip Massey, assistant professor in Drexel University’s Dornsife School of Public Health led a study — published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research and supported by a grant from the American Cancer Society — looking at how people are communicating on Twitter about the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine. He found that there was much more positive chatter about the vaccine than negative.
By analyzing nearly 200,000 English-language tweets between the summers of 2014 and 2015, Dr. Massey and his team found that the most popular sentiment attached to tweets about the HPV vaccine were positive. Almost 39 percent of tweets gathered were classified as positive, while negative tweets were a little more than 25 percent of those analyzed.
HPV was a good topic to explore the intersection of social media and health information, Dr. Massey believes, because of its importance to adolescent health.
“Kids, adolescents and young people, in general, are priority populations for HPV vaccination,” Dr. Massey explained. “These same populations are also some of the highest utilizers of social media. Parents play a key role in deciding whether their kids will get the vaccine, and as more millennials reach parenthood, social media may play an even bigger role in cancer prevention, especially concerning HPV vaccination.”
For that reason, health and media literacy are skills that need boosting, Dr. Massey believes. “We need to think more about how we can help strengthen people’s ability to obtain, evaluate and apply well-founded information from trustworthy sources to inform health decisions,” Dr. Massey said.