A new study, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, reveals that Americans had more health concerns during the recession. "There were 200 million excess health queries during the Great Recession," says research professor, John W. Ayers.
The team of researchers lead by Ayer examined the Google search patterns of Americans during the recent Great Recession, here defined as December 2008 through 2011. They came up with a list of 343 commonly searched symptoms. Searches for " stomach ulcer symptoms" were found to be 228 percent higher than would be expected and "headache symptoms" were 193 percent higher.
Advertisement"The Great Recession undoubtedly got inside the body via the mind, namely through stress," Ayers said.
Monitoring health-related search terms is an effective study method that would help public health officers to recognize burgeoning epidemics such as stress-related chest pain and direct resources to help people reduce their stress or take other precautionary measures. It is cheaper, quicker and more efficient than traditional survey methodology.
Most search engines like Google even interpret searches and suggest links to Internet-based treatment options. "The web is a stigma-reducing and cost-reducing venue to reach patients who search for, but do not otherwise receive, treatment because they cannot afford medications or copayments," said Ayer.
Reference: American Journal of Preventive Medicine 2014.