Eating Disorder Awareness Campaigns: Thematic and Quantitative Analysis Using Twitter
Background: Health awareness initiatives are frequent but their efficacy is a matter of controversy. We have investigated the effect of the Eating Disorder Awareness Week and Wake Up Weight Watchers campaigns on Twitter. Objective: We aimed to examine whether the Eating Disorder Awareness Week and Wake Up Weight Watchers initiatives increased the volume and dissemination of Twitter conversations related to eating disorders and investigate what content generates the most interest on Twitter. Methods: Over a period of 12 consecutive days in 2018, we collected tweets containing the hashtag #wakeupweightwatchers and hashtags related to Eating Disorder Awareness Week (#eatingdisorderawarenessweek, #eatingdisorderawareness, or #EDAW), with the hashtag #eatingdisorder as a control. The content of each tweet was rated as medical, testimony, help offer, awareness, pro-ana, or anti-ana. We analyzed the number of retweets and favorites generated, as well as the potential reach and impact of the hashtags and the characteristics of contributors. Results: The number of #wakeupweightwatchers tweets was higher than that of Eating Disorder Awareness Week and #eatingdisorder tweets (3900, 2056, and 1057, respectively). The content of tweets was significantly different between the hashtags analyzed (P<.001). Medical content was lower in the awareness campaigns. Awareness and help offer content were lower in #wakeupweightwatchers tweets. Retweet and favorite ratios were highest in #wakeupweightwatchers tweets. Eating Disorder Awareness Week achieved the highest impact, and very influential contributors participated. Conclusions: Both awareness campaigns effectively promoted tweeting about eating disorders. The majority of tweets did not promote any specific preventive or help-seeking behaviors.