Levels of Toothache-Related Interests of Google and YouTube Users From Developed and Developing Countries Over Time

PeerJ. 2019 Oct 10;7:e7706. doi: 10.7717/peerj.7706. eCollection 2019.


Background: The preferences of Web users can be influenced by distinct factors of populations. Hence, hypothetically, source-based patterns of health-related Web searches might differ between individuals from developed and developing countries, due to their distinct educational, social, economic, political, cultural, and psychosocial backgrounds. In this context, this study aimed to determine the trends of toothache-related searches performed on Google Search and YouTube, regarding differences between developed and developing countries.

Methods: This retrospective longitudinal study analyzed computational metadata on toothache-related interests of Internet users. Google Trends was accessed to obtain the monthly variation of relative search volume (RSV) of the topic "Toothache-Disease" on Google (G) and YouTube (YT) through 2008-2017. Autocorrelation and partial autocorrelation plots, ARIMA models, Kruskal-Wallis, Dunn's and T tests were performed for evaluating trends, 12-month forecasts and the differences of annual ratios of YT/G searches between developed and developing countries, respectively (P < 0.05).

Results: Uptrends of RSVs were observed in both country groups over time, although 12-month forecasts tended to plateau.The volumes of searches were higher in developed countries in comparison to developing ones; however, this difference was not observed regarding Google searches performed between 2016 and 2017. Independently of country groups, the ratios YT/G remained relatively constant throughout the period, indicating a greater interest in toothache-related information available on Google.

Conclusion: In conclusion, toothache-related searches from Google and YouTube increased during the last decade. The preferences of Web users seemed to be influenced by the differences between developed and developing countries, such as the availability and penetration of the Internet, and education levels.

Keywords: Health education; Health information; Toothache; eHealth.

Grant support

This study was supported by the São Paulo Research Foundation with a master’s research scholarship (#2017/25899-7). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.