HealthDay News — Arguments against vaccination remain consistent within subgroups of individuals, according to a study published online March 18 in Vaccine.

Beth L. Hoffman, from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and colleagues used data from 197 individuals who posted antivaccination comments in response to a message promoting vaccination posted on Facebook. Publicly available content was systematically analyzed using quantitative coding, descriptive analysis, social network analysis, and an in-depth qualitative assessment.

The researchers found that 89 percent of individuals identified as female. Thirty-six states and eight other countries were represented among 136 individuals who divulged their location. Modularity analysis revealed four distinct subgroups in a two-mode network of individuals and topics; these subgroups were labeled trust, alternatives, safety, and conspiracy. Deeper qualitative analysis of individuals’ profiles revealed they tended to post material against other health-related practices.

“Individuals from around the globe who are opposed to vaccination are connecting via social media, suggesting the need for clinicians and researchers to develop interventions to combat the propagation of misinformation about vaccines on social media,” the authors write. “Those opposed to vaccination often misrepresent data and skew risk perception when spreading their messages on Facebook, suggesting that media literacy or entertainment narratives may be effective avenues for intervention.”

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