On SAGE Insight: #ec: Findings and implications from a quantitative content analysis of tweets about emergency contraception


The purpose of this study, which analyzed tweets from March 2011, was to explore the ways in which Emergency Contraception EC is presented on Twitter and provide insight to public health practitioners and other professionals interested in fostering greater uptake of EC when needed. Such insight can help inform the development of more effective and appropriate public health messages which employ social media such as Twitter.


Twitter, a popular social media, helps users around the world quickly share and receive information. The way in which Twitter frames health issues – especially controversial issues like emergency contraception (EC) – can influence public opinion. The current study analyzed all English-language EC-related tweets from March 2011 (n = 3535). Variables measured user characteristics (e.g. gender), content (e.g. news, humor), Twitter-specific strategy (e.g. retweet), and certain time periods (e.g. weekends). The analysis applied chi-square and regression analyses to the variables. Tweets most frequently focused on content related to news (27.27%), accessing EC (27.27%), and humor (25.63%). Among tweets that were shared, however, the most common content included humor, followed by personal/vicarious experience. Although only 5.54% of shared tweets mentioned promiscuity, this content category had the strongest odds for being shared (OR = 1.51; p = 0.031). The tweet content with lowest odds of being shared were side effects (OR = 0.24; p < 0.001), drug safety (OR = 0.44; p < 0.001), and news (OR = 0.44; p < 0.001). Tweets with the greatest odds of having been sent on a weekend sought advice (OR = 1.94; p = 0.012), addressed personal or vicarious experience (OR = 1.91; p < 0.001), or contained humor (OR = 1.56; p < 0.001). Similar patterns occurred in tweets sent around St. Patrick’s Day. Only a few differences were found in the ways in which male and female individuals discussed EC on Twitter. In particular, when compared to males, females mentioned birth control (p = 0.002), EC side effects (p = 0.024), and issues related to responsibility (p = 0.003) more often than expected. Study findings offer timely and practical suggestions for public health professionals wanting to communicate about EC via Twitter.

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Article details
#ec: Findings and implications from a quantitative content analysis of tweets about emergency contraception
Tilly A Gurman, Tiffany Clark
DOI: 10.1177/2055207615625035
Online ISSN  2055-2076
Published online January 19, 2016.





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