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Media is loading

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A Leader, Jefferson School of Population Health, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, PA.


Growing evidence shows that social media can be used to analyze public perceptions of potentially controversial health topics such as human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination. The purpose of this study was to identify the types of conversation networks that were formed by HPV vaccination discussions on Twitter. The Pew Research Center identifies six types of conversation networks: polarized crowds, tight crowds, brand clusters, community clusters, broadcast networks and support networks. Tweets containing at least one of 13 keywords related to HPV vaccination were collected between August 1, 2014 and January 1, 2015. For this study, all tweets on the first day of each month were analyzed using NodeXL, a social media analysis tool, to visualize the conversation networks. ArcGIS was used to map tweet locations. A total of 12,107 unique tweets were analyzed. The highest number of tweets was on September 1st (n=5,152) while the lowest number was on January 1st (n=757). Both health-related organizations (CDC, NCI, Planned Parenthood) and individuals (physicians, nurses, advocates for or against vaccination) tweeted about HPV vaccination worldwide. Although many users tweeted about HPV vaccination, and the majority of tweets were retweeted, there was little direct conversation among users. This indicates a broadcast network, which is when a user is retweeted by many followers, but no direct communication takes place. Secondary conversation networks included brand and community clusters, which form when small clusters are created around popular topics or users. Findings suggest that mass interest is being created around HPV vaccination around the world, but exchange of ideas between Twitter users is seldom and primarily sparked by personal experiences and opinions. Knowing the types of Twitter conversations forming around HPV vaccination can help public health agencies develop effective ways to better engage and interact with social media users in order to potentially impact vaccine uptake.

Presentation: 28 minutes