Background: Large-scale media coverage of health care outcomes can have a profound influence on health care utilization by the general population. Google trends (GT), an online resource, allows for tracking of global search volumes as a proxy for determining public interest.
Objective: To utilize GT to characterize measurable effects on public interest in breast implant removal procedures and breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL) following March 2019 FDA Advisory Committee Meeting and July 2019 public statements by the FDA and Allergan announcing the voluntary recall of BIOCELL® textured breast implants.
Methods: GT databases of search volumes were collected for terms related to 3 categories including Allergan BIOCELL® textured breast implants, BIA-ALCL, and breast implant removal from January 2004 to October 2019. The short-term and long-term interests were determined by the percent change in monthly search volumes with respect to the announcements from Allergan and FDA Advisory Committee Meeting.
Results: Following Allergan's recall announcement, public interest in "textured breast implants" and "allergan breast implant" peaked in July 2019 and rose 456% and 669%, respectively. Public interest in "anaplastic large cell lymphoma breast implant" and "ALCL cancer" rose 200 and 175%, respectively. Long-term interest in all implant removal terms was found to be higher after March 2019 FDA Advisory Committee Meeting than beforehand (p < 0.05).
Conclusions: GT data correlate with shifts in real-world health care utilization and public interest caused by high-profile media coverage, making it a useful tool for providers for real-time prediction of trends in public health in response to observable influences.
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Keywords: Allergan implants; Breast cancer; Google trends; Implant recall; Implant-associated lymphoma; Public interest.