Mapping Digital Wellness Content

Implications for Health, Science, and Political Communication Research


  • Sedona Chinn University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Ariel Hasell University of Michigan
  • Dan Hiaeshutter-Rice Michigan State University



wellness, alternative media, social meda, misinformation, survey, computational methods


Despite the increasing popularity of wellness on social media, there is
little empirical study of its content or audiences. This study provides
descriptive information of prevalent themes in wellness content and the
composition and views of its audiences. Using structural topic modeling to
identify central themes #wellness content on Instagram (N = 544,377
posts), we find that while much content appears to promote desired health
behaviors (e.g., quality sleep), other topics concern unsubstantiated claims
that are often driven by commercial incentives. Nationally representative
survey data of U.S. adults (N = 970) further reveals that women, more
liberal, and younger people are more likely to seek and see wellness
content. Those who actively seek wellness content are both more trusting
of science institutions and have less accurate health beliefs compared with
those who are inadvertently exposed to wellness content. Though wellness
has not received a great deal of scholarly attention, this description sheds
light on the relevance of wellness to central questions in communication
disciplines concerning expertise, (mis)information, and institutional trust. The popularity of wellness content in social media merits further empirical
examination as such content may have important benefits and harms that
disproportionately affect women and young people.




How to Cite

Chinn, S., Hasell, A., & Hiaeshutter-Rice, D. (2023). Mapping Digital Wellness Content: Implications for Health, Science, and Political Communication Research. Journal of Quantitative Description: Digital Media , 3, 1–56.