Objective: Opposition to human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination is common on social media and has the potential to impact vaccine coverage. This study aims to conduct an international comparison of the proportions of tweets about HPV vaccines that express concerns, the types of concerns expressed and the social connections among users posting about HPV vaccines in Australia, Canada and the UK.
Design: Using a cross-sectional design, an international comparison of English language tweets about HPV vaccines and social connections among Twitter users posting about HPV vaccines between January 2014 and April 2016 was conducted. The Health Belief Model, one of the most widely used theories in health psychology, was used as the basis for coding the types of HPV vaccine concerns expressed on Twitter.
Setting: The content of tweets and the social connections between users who posted tweets about HPV vaccines from Australia, Canada and the UK.
Population: 16 789 Twitter users who posted 43 852 tweets about HPV vaccines.
Main outcome measures: The proportions of tweets expressing concern, the type of concern expressed and the proportions of local and international social connections between users.
Results: Tweets expressing concerns about HPV vaccines made up 14.9% of tweets in Canada, 19.4% in Australia and 22.6% in the UK. The types of concerns expressed were similar across the three countries, with concerns related to 'perceived barriers' being the most common. Users expressing concerns about HPV vaccines in each of the three countries had a relatively high proportion of international followers also expressing concerns.
Conclusions: The proportions and types of HPV vaccine concerns expressed on Twitter were similar across the three countries. Twitter users who mostly expressed concerns about HPV vaccines were better connected to international users who shared their concerns compared with users who did not express concerns about HPV vaccines.
Keywords: Health Belief Model; Human papillomavirus; Social media.; Twitter; Vaccination.
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