Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

People think about their health early in the week, according to Google searches

Date:
April 18, 2014
Source:
San Diego State University
Summary:
A new study analyzing weekly patterns in health-related Google searches reveals a recurring pattern that could be leveraged to improve public health strategies. Investigators analyzed 'healthy' Google searches originating in the US from 2005 to 2012 and found that on average, searches for health topics were 30 percent more frequent at the beginning of the week than on days later in the week.

A new study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine analyzing weekly patterns in health-related Google searches reveals a recurring pattern that could be leveraged to improve public health strategies.

Investigators from San Diego State University, the Santa Fe Institute, Johns Hopkins University, and the Monday Campaigns, analyzed "healthy" Google searches (searches that included the term healthy and were indeed health-related, e.g., "healthy diet") originating in the U.S. from 2005 to 2012. They found that on average, searches for health topics were 30 percent more frequent at the beginning of the week than on days later in the week, with the lowest average number of searches on Saturday.

This pattern was consistent year after year, week after week, using a daily measure to represent the proportion of healthy searches to the total number of searches each day.

"Many illnesses have a weekly clock with spikes early in the week," said SDSU's John W. Ayers, lead author of the study. "This research indicates that a similar rhythm exists for positive health behaviors, motivating a new research agenda to understand why this pattern exists and how such a pattern can be utilized to improve the public's health."

Joanna Cohen, PhD, a co-author of the study and professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, added, "We could be seeing this effect because of the perception that Monday is a fresh start, akin to a mini New Year's Day. People tend to indulge in less healthy behaviors on the weekend, so Monday can serve as a 'health reset' to get back on track with their health regimens."

"It's interesting to see such a consistent and similar rhythm emerging from search data," added Benjamin Althouse, study co-author and Omidyar Fellow at the Santa Fe Institute. "These consistent rhythms in healthy searches likely reflect something about our collective mindset, and understanding these rhythms could lead to insights about the nature of health behavior change."

Results showed that search volumes on Monday and Tuesday were three percent greater relative to Wednesday, 15 percent greater than Thursday, 49 percent greater than Friday, 80 percent greater than Saturday, and 29 percent greater than Sunday.

The team also examined whether media exposure could be driving this weekly pattern. Co-author Mark Dredze from Johns Hopkins said, "We tested this hypothesis by monitoring the daily frequency of news stories encouraging healthy lifestyles, but those stories actually peaked on Wednesdays and were statistically independent of healthy searches."

According to the published paper, "Understanding circaseptan rhythms around health behaviors can yield critical public health gains. For instance, government-funded health promotion programs spend $76.2 billion annually and their cost-effectiveness can be improved by targeting the population on weekday(s) when more individuals are contemplating health habits."

Morgan Johnson, MPH, from The Monday Campaigns and study co-author, noted that leveraging Monday is a simple, cost-effective way to nudge people towards healthier behavior. "The challenge we face in public health is to help people sustain healthy behaviors over time. Since Monday comes around every seven days when people are 'open to buy' health, it can be used as a cue to help create healthy habits for life."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by San Diego State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. John W. Ayers, Benjamin M. Althouse, Morgan Johnson, Mark Dredze, Joanna E. Cohen. What’s the Healthiest Day? American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 2014; DOI: 10.1016/j.amepre.2014.02.003

Cite This Page:

San Diego State University. "People think about their health early in the week, according to Google searches." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 April 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140418141107.htm>.
San Diego State University. (2014, April 18). People think about their health early in the week, according to Google searches. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140418141107.htm
San Diego State University. "People think about their health early in the week, according to Google searches." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140418141107.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

CDC Revamps Ebola Guidelines After Criticism

CDC Revamps Ebola Guidelines After Criticism

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have issued new protocols for healthcare workers interacting with Ebola patients. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
WHO: Ebola Vaccine Trials to Start a in January

WHO: Ebola Vaccine Trials to Start a in January

AP (Oct. 21, 2014) Tens of thousands of doses of experimental Ebola vaccines could be available for "real-world" testing in West Africa as soon as January as long as they are deemed safe in soon to start trials, the World Health Organization said Tuesday. (Oct. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) A medical team has for the first time given a man the ability to walk again after transplanting cells from his brain onto his severed spinal cord. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
CDC Issues New Ebola Guidelines for Health Workers

CDC Issues New Ebola Guidelines for Health Workers

Reuters - US Online Video (Oct. 21, 2014) The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has set up new guidelines for health workers taking care of patients infected with Ebola. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins