Reactions on Twitter to updated alcohol guidelines

In January 2016, the UK’s four Chief Medical Officers released a public consultation regarding updated guidelines for low-risk alcohol consumption. To assess the immediate online response to the new guidelines, we conducted a content analysis of comments on Twitter using the hashtag #alcoholguidelines made in the week following the guidelines being announced.

Our study found that more tweets were unsupportive (49%) than supportive (44%). We identified eleven themes in the comments. Unsupportive themes included encouraging other to drink, disagreement with the scientific backing of the guidelines, and complaints about ‘nanny state’ intrusion.

In the paper we discuss the benefits of social media for understanding responses to health policy messages, and consider the possibility of using emotional tagging to improve the reach of health communication.

Reactions on Twitter to updated alcohol guidelines in the UK: a content analysis. Stautz, Bignardi, Hollands, Marteau, 2017.

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