Brigo F, Igwe SC, Ausserer H, et al. Why do people Google epilepsy? An infodemiological study of online behavior for epilepsy-related search terms. Epilepsy Behav. 2014;31:67‐70. doi:10.1016/j.yebeh.2013.11.020
Millions of people worldwide use the Internet daily as a source of health information. Google is the most popular search engine and is used by patients and physicians to search for online health-related information. This study aimed to evaluate changes in web search behavior occurring in English-speaking countries over time for terms related to epilepsy and epileptic seizures. Using Google Trends, data on global search queries for the terms "epilepsy", "seizure", and "seizures" between January 2004 and September 2013 were analyzed. The reduction over time in search queries for the term "epilepsy" (and, to a lesser extent, "seizures") was counterbalanced by an increased trend in searches for the term "seizure". Most terms associated with the search queries were related to symptoms of seizures, especially tonic-clonic seizures, and to seizures occurring in children. Three peaks in search volume over the period studied corresponded to news of celebrities having seizures. The volume of searches for the term "epilepsy SUDEP" was found to be enormously increased over time. Most people appear to use search engines to look for terms related to epilepsy to obtain information on seizure symptoms, possibly to aid initial self-diagnosis. Fears and worries about epileptic seizures and news on celebrities with epilepsy seem to be major factors that influence online search behavior.
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