Twitter analysis shows increasing awareness of palliative care in the USA

Palliverse is a fan of twitter and social media in general increasing awareness and uptake of palliative care. This analysis of search terms in twitter shows that awareness of palliative care looks to be increasing in the US, compared to in the UK where it is well established.

Internet search query analysis can be used to demonstrate the rapidly increasing public awareness of palliative care in the USA
McLean, S., Lennon, P., Glare, P.
BMJ Support Palliat Care. 2017; 0:bmjspcare-2016-001171v1-bmjspcare-2016-001171.

Abstract

Background

A lack of public awareness of palliative care (PC) has been identified as one of the main barriers to appropriate PC access. Internet search query analysis is a novel methodology, which has been effectively used in surveillance of infectious diseases, and can be used to monitor public awareness of health-related topics.

 

Objectives

We aimed to demonstrate the utility of internet search query analysis to evaluate changes in public awareness of PC in the USA between 2005 and 2015.

Methods Google Trends provides a referenced score for the popularity of a search term, for defined regions over defined time periods. The popularity of the search term ‘palliative care’ was measured monthly between 1/1/2005 and 31/12/2015 in the USA and in the UK.

 

Results

Results were analysed using independent t-tests and joinpoint analysis. The mean monthly popularity of the search term increased between 2008–2009 (p<0.001), 2011–2012 (p<0.001), 2013–2014 (p=0.004) and 2014–2015 (p=0.002) in the USA. Joinpoint analysis was used to evaluate the monthly percentage change (MPC) in the popularity of the search term. In the USA, the MPC increase was 0.6%/month (p<0.05); in the UK the MPC of 0.05% was non-significant.

 

Discussion

Although internet search query surveillance is a novel methodology, it is freely accessible and has significant potential to monitor health-seeking behaviour among the public. PC is rapidly growing in the USA, and the rapidly increasing public awareness of PC as demonstrated in this study, in comparison with the UK, where PC is relatively well established is encouraging in increasingly ensuring appropriate PC access for all.

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