We study the propositional satisfiability problem (SAT) on classes of CNF formulas (formulas in Conjunctive Normal Form) that obey certain structural restrictions in terms of their hypergraph structure, by associating to a CNF formula the hypergraph obtained by ignoring negations and considering clauses as hyperedges on variables. We show that satisfiability of CNF formulas with so-called ``beta-acyclic hypergraphs'' can be decided in polynomial time.

We also study the parameterized complexity of SAT for ``almost'' beta-acyclic instances, using as parameter the formula's distance from being beta-acyclic. As distance we use the size of smallest strong backdoor sets and the beta-hypertree width. As a by-product we obtain the W[1]-hardness of SAT parameterized by the (undirected) clique-width of the incidence graph, which disproves a conjecture by Fischer, Makowsky, and Ravve (Discr. Appl. Math. 156, 2008).