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Indianapolis Business Journal

Christina Galoozis

When actor Patrick Swayze’s diagnosis of pancreatic cancer was first reported on March 5, 2008, the term “pancreatic cancer” was pretty low on Google’s list of popular searches. But the next day, traffic for the same search term spiked to six times its average. This is precisely the type of information health care organizations should be paying attention to, according to a study by Ball State University’s Center for Media Design that tracked health-related search patterns using Google Trends, a free tool that determines the popularity of key words.The study’s main takeaway: Health care marketers can adapt to, and even use to their advantage, the online search habits of consumers.

Understanding when and why people search for specific health-related terms is vital to attracting more visitors (i.e. patients) to a Web site.

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US News and World Report Online http://health.usnews.com/articles/health/healthday/2008/08/15/study-probes-internet-health-related-search.html

FRIDAY, Aug. 15 (HealthDay News) — A new study says Google Trends has a potential as a scientific research tool that may help people better understand how the public uses the Web to find health information.

Despite the limitations of the tool, which provides access to worldwide public search data from 2004 to the present, Ball State University researchers issued a paper saying they have detected several trends. Read the rest of this entry »

Meriter  https://meriter.staywellsolutionsonline.com/RelatedItems/6,617983

FRIDAY, Aug. 15 (HealthDay News) — A new study says Google Trends has a potential as a scientific research tool that may help people better understand how the public uses the Web to find health information.

Despite the limitations of the tool, which provides access to worldwide public search data from 2004 to the present, Ball State University researchers issued a paper saying they have detected several trends.

“The first pattern we noticed was an annual cycle that appeared to be related to seasonal interests and events in search patterns,” Peter Ellery, assistant director for the media of health of the university’s Center for Media Design’s Insight and Research, said in a news release issued by the school. “Search volumes for words like diet and exercise tended to increase sharply at certain times of the year, like right around New Year’s, for example.”

Other preliminary findings include:

  • Ties between search patterns and illnesses or diseases linked to celebrities in the news. Celebrity influence on search volume appears to be culture-specific.
  • The most frequently occurring cancers were not always the same as the types of cancer being most searched for.
  • Traditional search terms for health-related information prevailed over newer or trendier terms.
  • Search trends and patterns in the United States were similar to those in other countries and languages other than English.

“Initially, the goal of this study was to just look at the Google Trends service itself and report on its potential as a research tool,” he said. “However, the appearance of patterns and relationships in the terms used to look at this service now has us asking many more questions and considering how Google Trends might best help us to answer them as well.”

Future papers in will look into whether Google makes any changes or alterations to the application in response to user needs. The center plans to release its next report in early 2009.

More information

You can check out Google Trends at http://www.google.com/trends.

SOURCE: Ball State University, news release, July 30, 2008

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Insight and Research at the Center for Media Design (CMD) has begun to receive quite a bit of attention from industry publications and mainstream media outlets in the last several years as a groundbreaking and reputable media research organization. This archive is only for educational purpose, if the content involved any copyright issue, please contact: Michelle Prieb: meprieb@bsu.edu
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