Title

Otolaryngology-related Google Search trends during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date

6-19-2020

Journal

American journal of otolaryngology

Volume

41

Issue

6

DOI

10.1016/j.amjoto.2020.102615

Abstract

OBJECTIVE: To assess trends of Google Search queries for symptoms and complaints encountered commonly in otolaryngology practices during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic when in-person care has been limited.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: In this cross-sectional study, data on Google Search queries in the United States for 30 otolaryngology-related terms were obtained from Google Trends. The means of relative search volume from the COVID-19 period (March 29, 2020 through May 16, 2020) were compared to similar periods from 2016 to 2019 using a t-test of two independent samples.

RESULTS: In total, 16.6% of search terms had significant increases in relative search volume during the COVID-19 period, with the largest percentage increase for "can't smell" (124.4%, p = .006), followed by "allergies" (30.3%, p = .03), "voice pain" (26.1%, p = .008), and "ears ringing" (19.0%, p < .001). Of all search terms, 26.7% had significant decreases in relative search volume, including the largest percentage decrease for "laryngitis" (59.8%, p < .001), followed by "thyroid nodule" (54.4%, p < .001), "thyroid cancer" (45.6%, p < .001), and "ENT" (34.9%, p < .001).

CONCLUSION: This study demonstrates that Google search activity for many otolaryngology-related terms during the COVID-19 pandemic has increased or decreased significantly as compared to previous years. With reduced access to in-office otolaryngology care in the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic, these are important considerations for otolaryngology practices to meet the needs of patients who lack access to care.

Peer Reviewed

1

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