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Monitoring real-time junior doctor sentiment from comments on a public social media platform: a retrospective observational study
  1. Tamir Sirkis1,
  2. Stuart Maitland2
  1. 1College of Medicine and Health, University of Exeter, Exeter, UK
  2. 2Translational Clinical Research Institute, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Stuart Maitland, Newcastle University Translational Clinical Research Institute, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK; Stu.Maitland{at}


Objectives To investigate whether sentiment analysis and topic modelling can be used to monitor the sentiment and opinions of junior doctors.

Design Retrospective observational study based on comments on a social media website.

Setting Every publicly available comment in r/JuniorDoctorsUK on Reddit from 1 January 2018 to 31 December 2021.

Participants 7707 Reddit users who commented in the r/JuniorDoctorsUK subreddit.

Main outcome measure Sentiment (scored −1 to +1) of comments compared with results of surveys conducted by the General Medical Council.

Results Average comment sentiment was positive but varied significantly during the study period. Fourteen topics of discussion were identified, each associated with a different pattern of sentiment. The topic with the highest proportion of negative comments was the role of a doctor (38%), and the topic with the most positive sentiment was hospital reviews (72%).

Conclusion Some topics discussed in social media are comparable to those queried in traditional questionnaires, whereas other topics are distinctive and offer insight into what themes junior doctors care about. Events during the coronavirus pandemic may explain the sentiment trends in the junior doctor community. Natural language processing shows significant potential in generating insights into junior doctors’ opinions and sentiment.

  • Information technology
  • World Wide Web technology

Data availability statement

Data are available on request. Pseudonymised data are available from the authors upon request.

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Data availability statement

Data are available on request. Pseudonymised data are available from the authors upon request.

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  • Contributors TS contributed to the planning, background research and data analysis of the project, as well as writing of the manuscript. SM planned the project, extracted the dataset, conducted sentiment analysis and topic modelling, and contributed to editing the manuscript. The corresponding author attests that all listed authors meet authorship criteria and that no others meeting the criteria have been omitted. SM acts as guarantor for the manuscript and accepts full responsibility for the work.

  • Funding SM (grant number BH180986) is funded by NIHR Newcastle Biomedical Research Centre (BRC), a partnership between Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Newcastle University, funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).

  • Disclaimer The views expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NIHR or the Department of Health and Social Care.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.