Vaccine Hesitancy in Discussion Forums: Computer-Assisted Argument Mining with Topic Models

Stud Health Technol Inform. 2018;247:366-370.


Arguments used when vaccination is debated on Internet discussion forums might give us valuable insights into reasons behind vaccine hesitancy. In this study, we applied automatic topic modelling on a collection of 943 discussion posts in which vaccine was debated, and six distinct discussion topics were detected by the algorithm. When manually coding the posts ranked as most typical for these six topics, a set of semantically coherent arguments were identified for each extracted topic. This indicates that topic modelling is a useful method for automatically identifying vaccine-related discussion topics and for identifying debate posts where these topics are discussed. This functionality could facilitate manual coding of salient arguments, and thereby form an important component in a system for computer-assisted coding of vaccine-related discussions.

Keywords: Vaccine hesitancy; argument mining; topic modelling.

MeSH terms

  • Data Mining*
  • Internet*
  • Vaccination
  • Vaccination Refusal*
  • Vaccines*


  • Vaccines