Fang, Y, Shepherd, TA and Smith, HE (2021) Examining the Trends in Online Health Information-Seeking Behavior About Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease in Singapore: Analysis of Data From Google Trends and the Global Burden of Disease Study. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 23 (10). ISSN 1438-8871

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BACKGROUND: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is the third leading cause of death globally, and timely health care seeking is imperative for its prevention, early detection, and management. While online health information-seeking behavior (OHISB) is increasingly popular due to widespread internet connectivity, little is known about how OHISB for COPD has changed in comparison with the COPD disease burden, particularly at a country-specific level. OBJECTIVE: This study aimed to examine the trends in OHISB for COPD and how that compared with the estimates of COPD disease burden in Singapore, a highly wired country with a steadily increasing COPD disease burden. METHODS: To examine the trends in OHISB for COPD, we performed Prais-Winsten regression analyses on monthly search volume data for COPD from January 2004 to June 2020 downloaded from Google Trends. We then conducted cross-correlational analyses to examine the relationship between annualized search volume on COPD topics and estimates of COPD morbidity and mortality reported in the Global Burden of Disease study from 2004 to 2017. RESULTS: From 2004 to 2020, the trend in COPD search volume was curvilinear (β=1.69, t194=6.64, P<.001), with a slope change around the end of 2006. There was a negative linear trend (β=-0.53, t33=-3.57, P=.001) from 2004 to 2006 and a positive linear trend (β=0.51, t159=7.43, P<.001) from 2007 to 2020. Cross-correlation analyses revealed positive associations between COPD search volume and COPD disease burden indicators: positive correlations between search volume and prevalence, incidence, years living with disability (YLD) at lag 0, and positive correlations between search volume and prevalence, YLD at lag 1. CONCLUSIONS: Google search volume on COPD increased from 2007 to 2020; this trend correlated with the upward trajectory of several COPD morbidity estimates, suggesting increasing engagement in OHISB for COPD in Singapore. These findings underscore the importance of making high-quality, web-based information accessible to the public, particularly COPD patients and their carers.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: ©Yang Fang, Thomas A Shepherd, Helen E Smith. Originally published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (, 18.10.2021. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work, first published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, is properly cited. The complete bibliographic information, a link to the original publication on, as well as this copyright and license information must be included.
Subjects: R Medicine > R Medicine (General)
R Medicine > R Medicine (General) > R735 Medical education. Medical schools. Research
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC705 Diseases of the respiratory system
Divisions: Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > School of Medicine
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Symplectic
Date Deposited: 26 Oct 2021 14:46
Last Modified: 26 Oct 2021 14:46

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