Alcohol Use Disorder Narratives in U.S. Digital News Coverage and Engagement on Social Media. Academic Article uri icon


  • Social media regularly serves as a source of news and health-related information subsequently shaping public opinion and behavior. We examined mainstream digital news narratives about alcohol use disorder (AUD), including coverage of solutions to AUD, and associations between narratives and engagement on social media. AUD-related articles (N=339) published in top U.S. newspapers and digital native news sources in 2019 were analyzed by trained coders with a structured codebook (=0.75), examining characteristics of stories highlighting specific individuals affected by AUD and solution-framing of AUD. Facebook shares were used as a proxy measure for an article's potential "reach" on social media. Of articles focused on individuals (72.0%), most (62.7%) depicted individuals affected by AUD as criminals, as opposed to engaging with alcohol treatment or being in recovery (31.1%). These criminal depictions received over eight times as many FB shares, compared to alcohol use treatment or recovery depictions. Law enforcement solutions (63.9%) were depicted most often, followed by AUD-treatment oriented solutions (40.1%), and prevention-oriented solutions (15.8%). Law enforcement solutions received more than five times as much social media engagement than AUD-treatment oriented solutions and over twenty-nine times more engagement than prevention-oriented solutions. There is a need to increase news coverage featuring depictions of individuals who have successfully engaged with alcohol treatment and recovery, reflecting the millions of Americans who have resolved a significant past alcohol problem. News coverage of AUD should also incorporate more depictions of evidence-based prevention-oriented and treatment-oriented solutions to AUD.

published proceedings

  • Health Commun

altmetric score

  • 3.6

author list (cited authors)

  • Russell, A. M., Montemayor, B. N., Boardman Ndulue, E., Barry, A. E., & Massey, P. M.

citation count

  • 0

complete list of authors

  • Russell, Alex M||Montemayor, Ben N||Boardman Ndulue, Emily||Barry, Adam E||Massey, Philip M

publication date

  • September 2022