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Papers of the Week

2022 Dec 13

Int J Environ Res Public Health



Burden of Neurological Diseases in the Philippines as Revealed by Web Searches: An Infodemiological Study.


Alonto A HD, Apor A D AO, Jamora R DG
Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2022 Dec 13; 19(24).
PMID: 36554618.


Due to the real-time acquisition of big data from the Internet, analysis of Google queries is now recognized as a valuable tool to explore and predict human behavior and interests. It was suggested that online data can be correlated with actual health data. Although the data are not structured nor systematic, the huge data from search engines can easily identify trends concerning diseases and other health concepts from a population perspective. Moreover, Internet data with the use of web search advertising nowadays may not only reveal the interest of the general population but also of the healthcare industry as reflected by the bid prices in search terms for medications. We aimed to compare the interests of the general population using monthly search volumes from Google and the healthcare industry using bid prices in web searches. Data used in this study were obtained from the Google Ads Application Programming Interface (API). This study evaluated the population's interest in neurological disorders by using search volumes related to neurology, either disease diagnosis or medications. Bid values generated in API were used as a proxy for the interests of the healthcare industry. Spearman's rank-order correlation was performed between search volumes and bid prices to determine significance. Among the neurologic diseases listed, the most searched were attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, migraine, and Alzheimer's disease. The most commonly searched drugs were oral antihypertensives (amlodipine, losartan, carvedilol), lipid-lowering agents (atorvastatin, simvastatin, rosuvastatin), and antiplatelets (acetylsalicylic acid, clopidogrel). The other most searched drugs were analgesics such as acetaminophen, tramadol, diclofenac, and morphine. The correlational analysis did not reveal a statistically significant correlation between search volume and bid price for both neurologic diseases and medications. Web searches may reflect the interest of the general population and the healthcare industry. However, there was disagreement in the search interests of the general population and the scientific community, including the pharmaceutical industry. Further studies are necessary in order to align these interests for the common benefit of all stakeholders.