February 8, 2014

Monitoring of non-cigarette tobacco use using Google Trends.

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Monitoring of non-cigarette tobacco use using Google Trends.

Tob Control. 2014 Feb 5;

Authors: Cavazos-Rehg PA, Krauss MJ, Spitznagel EL, Lowery A, Grucza RA, Chaloupka FJ, Bierut LJ

Abstract
BACKGROUND: Google Trends is an innovative monitoring system with unique potential to monitor and predict important phenomena that may be occurring at a population level. We sought to validate whether Google Trends can additionally detect regional trends in youth and adult tobacco use.
METHODS: We compared 2011 Google Trends relative search volume data for cigars, cigarillos, little cigars and smokeless tobacco with state prevalence of youth (grades 9-12) and adult (age 18 and older) use of these products using data from the 2011 United States state-level Youth Risk Behaviors Surveillance System and the 2010-2011 United States National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), respectively. We used the Pearson correlation coefficient to measure the associations.
RESULTS: We found significant positive correlations between state Google Trends cigar relative search volume and prevalence of cigar use among youth (r=0.39, R(2) = 0.154, p=0.018) and adults (r=0.49, R(2) = 0.243, p<0.001). Similarly, we found that the correlations between state Google Trends smokeless tobacco relative search volume and prevalence of smokeless tobacco use among youth and adults were both positive and significant (r=0.46, R(2) = 0.209, p=0.003 and r=0.48, R(2) = 0.226, p<0.001, respectively).
CONCLUSIONS: The results of this study validate that Google Trends has the potential to be a valuable monitoring tool for tobacco use. The near real-time monitoring features of Google Trends may complement traditional surveillance methods and lead to faster and more convenient monitoring of emerging trends in tobacco use.

PMID: 24500269 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

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