Analyzing online public commentary responding to the announcement of deemed consent organ donation legislation in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia

Analyzing online public commentary responding to the announcement of deemed consent organ donation legislation in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia
Alessandro R. Marcon, Darren N. Wagner, Christen Rachul, Matthew J. Weiss
Plos One, 15 December 2022
Open Access
Abstract
Background
The Canadian province of Nova Scotia recently became the first jurisdiction in North America to pass deemed consent organ donation legislation. The announcement of this legislation generated substantial online discussion, which we analyzed to provide insights on public perception.
Methods
We performed directed content analysis on 2663 user-generated comments appearing on two widely-shared Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC) articles published online in April 2019. We determined levels of support and opposition in comments and described the specific rhetoric used for doing so. We also performed one-way ANOVA and Pearson chi-square tests to determine how the comments were being received and engaged by other users.
Results
A range of commentary was present in both support and opposition to the changes in legislation. There were more negative than positive comments, and negative commentary generated more replies. Positive comments were received more positively by other users while negative comments were received more negatively. The total sum of negative comments was greatly influenced by a small number of very active participants. Negative commentary focused more on broad concepts and principles related to government, power, and individual rights rather than specific issues in the Nova Scotian context. Substantial issues of trust in the government and healthcare system were evident.
Conclusions
There were strong positive and negative sentiments expressed in the comments, but the total sum of negativity in the comments was significantly influenced by a small number of commentators. Analysis on the presumed consent concerns can be helpful to inform public outreach efforts.

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