More People are “Googling” about Lupus across the Globe
A new study suggests there may be growing public interest in lupus. Based on Google Trends (GT) data from around the world, people have been searching under the term “lupus” at increasing rate in recent years. Although Google searches of the word fell between January 2004 to December 2013, the data show a slowly rising trend from January 2014 to December 2018. Interestingly, search rates peak in May and reach their lowest numbers in November, though no significant seasonal patterns were detected.
The GT data also revealed seven top rising topics related to lupus: Selena Gomez, Sjögren syndrome, autoimmunity, rheumatoid arthritis, rheumatology, antinuclear antibody and autoimmune disease. While rheumatoid arthritis and autoimmune disease were the most searched terms overall, analysis showed Selena Gomez and Sjögren syndrome were the fastest-growing search terms. Selena Gomez is an American celebrity with lupus, and Sjögren’s syndrome is an immune system disorder characterized by dry eyes and mouth.
The findings lead to several interesting thoughts for consideration. The recent upward trend in Google searches for lupus may be accounted for by ever-expanding access to the internet and increasingly widespread use of smart phones. However, recently rising search rates may also reflect growing concern about or interest in the disease. The observed peaks in search rates during May might be meaningful, too, as lupus flares tend to be associated with greater exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun and suggest that people may be especially interested in lupus information in the spring or heading into summer. And the fast-growing topics observed likely may hint at the disease-related issues people are most interested in or concerned about.
Although the use of GT data has limitations – namely, that it automatically excludes people who do not use the search engine and does not provide additional demographic information about the study’s participants – the results may offer helpful insights to those working in public health, particularly when it comes to developing education and targeting communication efforts related to lupus. Learn more lupus facts and statistics.