Capturing public opinion on public health topics: a comparison of experiences from a systematic review, focus group study, and analysis of online, user-generated content
Giles, Emma Louise
Frontiers in Public Health
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Giles, E. L., & Adams, J. (2015). Capturing public opinion on public health topics: a comparison of experiences from a systematic review, focus group study, and analysis of online, user-generated content. Frontiers in Public Health, 3 (200)https://doi.org/10.3389/fpubh.2015.00200
Background: Capturing public opinion towards public health topics is important to ensure that services, policy and research are aligned with the beliefs and priorities of the general public. A number of approaches can be used to capture public opinion. Methods: We are conducting a programme of work on the effectiveness and acceptability of health promoting financial incentive interventions. We have captured public opinion on financial incentive interventions using three methods: a systematic review, focus group study, and analysis of online user-generated comments to news media reports. In this short, editorial-style, piece we compare and contrast our experiences with these three methods. Results: Each of these methods had their advantages and disadvantages. Advantages include tailoring of the research question for systematic reviews, probing of answers during focus groups, and the ability to aggregate a large data set using online user-generated content. However, disadvantages include needing to update systematic reviews, participants conforming to a dominant perspective in focus groups, and being unable to collect respondent characteristics during analysis of user-generated online content. That said, analysis of user-generated online content offers additional time and resource advantages, and we found it elicited similar findings to those obtained via more traditional methods, such as systematic reviews and focus groups. Conclusions: A number of methods for capturing public opinions on public health topics are available. Public health researchers, policy makers and practitioners should choose methods appropriate to their aims. Analysis user-generated online content, especially in the context of news media reports, may be a quicker and cheaper alternative to more traditional methods, without compromising on the breadth of opinions captured.
incentives, health behavior, research methods, attitudes, thematic analysis, qualitative, quantitative
This work is produced under the terms of a Career Development Fellowship research training fellowship issued by the NIHR to JA, grant number: CDF-2011-04-001. The views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the NHS, The National Institute for Health Research or the Department of Health. ELG is funded in part, and FFS is funded in full by Fuse: the Centre for Translational Research in Public Health and JA is funded in part by The Centre for Diet and Activity Research (CEDAR). Fuse and CEDAR are UKCRC Public Health Research Centres of Excellence. Funding for Fuse and CEDAR from the British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK, Economic and Social Research Council, Medical Research Council, the National Institute for Health Research, under the auspices of the UK Clinical Research Collaboration, is gratefully acknowledged. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
Department of Health (via National Institute for Health Research (NIHR)) (CDF-2011-04-001)
Wellcome Trust (087636/Z/08/Z)
External DOI: https://doi.org/10.3389/fpubh.2015.00200
This record's URL: https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/249192
Creative Commons Attribution 4.0
Licence URL: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/