Understanding public opinion to the introduction of minimum unit pricing in Scotland: a qualitative study using Twitter

Laurence Astill Wright, Su Golder, Adam Balkham, J McCambridge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

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Abstract

OBJECTIVES: On 1 May 2018 minimum unit pricing (MUP) of alcohol was introduced in Scotland. This study used Twitter posts to quantify sentiment expressed online during the introduction of MUP, conducted a thematic analysis of these perceptions and analysed which Twitter users were associated with which particular sentiments.

DESIGN AND SETTING: This qualitative social media analysis captured all tweets relating to MUP during the 2 weeks after the introduction of the policy. These tweets were assessed using a mixture of human and machine coding for relevance, sentiment and source. A thematic analysis was conducted.

PARTICIPANTS: 74 639 tweets were collected over 14 days. Of these 53 574 were relevant to MUP.

RESULTS: Study findings demonstrate that opinion on the introduction of MUP in Scotland was somewhat divided, as far as is discernible on Twitter, with a slightly higher proportion of positive posts (35%) than negative posts (28%), with positive sentiment stronger in Scotland itself. Furthermore, 55% of positive tweets/retweets were originally made by health or alcohol policy-related individuals or organisations. Thematic analysis of tweets showed some evidence of misunderstanding around policy issues.

CONCLUSIONS: It is possible to appreciate the divided nature of public opinion on the introduction of MUP in Scotland using Twitter, the nature of the sentiment around it and the key actors involved. It will be possible to later study how this changes when the policy becomes more established.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere029690
Number of pages8
JournalBMJ Open
Volume9
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jun 2019

Bibliographical note

© Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2019. Re-use permitted under CC BY. Published by BMJ.

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