'Well that’s the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard! No excuse’. A discourse analysis of social media users’ othering of non-attenders for cervical screening

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Objective: For women cervical cancer is the fourth most commonly diagnosed cancer worldwide, incidences of which have increased by 20% in the UK in two decades. A growing number of people access health information online and as such health promotion campaigns are utilising social media to reach wider audiences.

Design: This study adopts a discourse analysis approach to analysing online interactions in relation to cervical cancer screening campaigns. Data were collected from Facebook and Twitter between August 2017 and August 2018.

Results: Three approaches in the discursive strategy of othering were identified: (1) Cervical cancer screening presented as an easy, and obvious choice; (2) Footing and the use of statistics to add credibility to posts; (3) Morality positioning and shaming of non-attenders. The findings suggest that in response to such campaigns there is an element of online ‘othering’ in terms of shaming non-attenders and attempting to delegitimise reasons for non-attendance.

Conclusion: Whilst health promotion campaigns should be designed to empower individuals to make informed choices, at times they can lead to stigmatisation of those who do not conform. Future campaigns should focus more on understanding the reasons why women do not attend without dismissing them.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPsychology and Health
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 17 May 2020

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