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Text mining of Reddit posts: Using latent Dirichlet allocation to identify common parenting issues

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posted on 01.01.2022, 00:00 authored by Elizabeth WestruppElizabeth Westrupp, Christopher GreenwoodChristopher Greenwood, Matthew Fuller-TyszkiewiczMatthew Fuller-Tyszkiewicz, T S Berkowitz, L Hagg, George Youssef
Parenting interventions offer an evidence-based method for the prevention and early intervention of child mental health problems, but to-date their population-level effectiveness has been limited by poor reach and engagement, particularly for fathers, working mothers, and disadvantaged families. Tailoring intervention content to parents’ context offers the potential to enhance parent engagement and learning by increasing relevance of content to parents’ daily experiences. However, this approach requires a detailed understanding of the common parenting situations and issues that parents face day-to-day, which is currently lacking. We sought to identify the most common parenting situations discussed by parents on parenting-specific forums of the free online discussion forum, Reddit. We aimed to understand perspectives from both mothers and fathers, and thus retrieved publicly available data from r/Daddit and r/Mommit. We used latent Dirichlet allocation to identify the 10 most common topics discussed in the Reddit posts, and completed a manual text analysis to summarize the parenting situations (defined as involving a parent and their child aged 0–18 years, and describing a potential/actual issue). We retrieved 340 (r/Daddit) and 578 (r/Mommit) original posts. A model with 31 latent Dirichlet allocation topics was best fitting, and 24 topics included posts that met our inclusion criteria for manual review. We identified 45 unique but broadly defined parenting situations. The majority of parenting situations were focused on basic childcare situations relating to eating, sleeping, routines, sickness, and toilet training; or related to how to respond to child negative emotions or difficult behavior. Most situations were discussed in relation to infant or toddler aged children, and there was high consistency in the themes raised in r/Daddit and r/Mommit. Our results offer potential to tailor parenting interventions in a meaningful way, creating opportunities to develop content and resources that are directly relevant to parents’ lived experiences.



PLoS One





Article number



1 - 17


Public Library of Science


San Francisco, Calif.







Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal