Culp F, Wu Y, Wu D, Ren Y, Raynor P, Hung P, Qiao S, Li X, Eichelberger K. Understanding Alcohol Use Discourse and Stigma Patterns in Perinatal Care on Twitter. Healthcare. 2022; 10(12):2375. https://doi.org/10.3390/healthcare10122375
(1) Background: perinatal alcohol use generates a variety of health risks. Social media platforms discuss fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) and other widespread outcomes, providing personalized user-generated content about the perceptions and behaviors related to alcohol use during pregnancy. Data collected from Twitter underscores various narrative structures and sentiments in tweets that reflect large-scale discourses and foster societal stigmas;
(2) Methods: We extracted alcohol-related tweets from May 2019 to October 2021 using an official Twitter search API based on a set of keywords provided by our clinical team. Our exploratory study utilized thematic content analysis and inductive qualitative coding methods to analyze user content. Iterative line-by-line coding categorized dynamic descriptive themes from a random sample of 500 tweets;
(3) Results: qualitative methods from content analysis revealed underlying patterns among inter-user engagements, outlining individual, interpersonal and population-level stigmas about perinatal alcohol use and negative sentiment towards drinking mothers. As a result, the overall silence surrounding personal experiences with alcohol use during pregnancy suggests an unwillingness and sense of reluctancy from pregnant adults to leverage the platform for support and assistance due to societal stigmas;
(4) Conclusions: identifying these discursive factors will facilitate more effective public health programs that take into account specific challenges related to social media networks and develop prevention strategies to help Twitter users struggling with perinatal alcohol use.