Tracking internet interest in anabolic-androgenic steroids using Google Trends

Tay Wee Teck, J. and Mccann, M. (2018) Tracking internet interest in anabolic-androgenic steroids using Google Trends. International Journal of Drug Policy, 51, pp. 52-55. (doi:10.1016/j.drugpo.2017.11.001) (PMID:29197722) (PMCID:PMC5788329)

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Abstract

Background: There is a perception that the prevalence of anabolic-androgenic steroid (AAS) use is increasing in the UK, with consequent individual and public health risks. Nevertheless, there is a lack of real-time surveillance data to support the development of effective policy. This paper explores the potential of Google Trends to complement existing surveillance methods by analysing user generated search term data. Methods: The Google Trends web tool was used to identify patterns of UK online interest in 15 AAS from January 2011 to December 2015, with 10 ultimately suitable for further analysis. Time series analysis was applied to the data. Results: 10 steroids were ranked from most to least popular. All compounds had peaks in interest between April to July, potentially indicating a consumer driven desire to attain a desired physique in time for summer. Oral steroids were among the most searched for drugs which may have relevance for current service provision to steroid users. Conclusion: Alternative data sources such Google Trends may provide useful additional information to supplement existing surveillance data. The limitations of this method however makes cautious interpretation and triangulation with other data sources essential.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Mccann, Dr Mark and Tay Wee Teck, Joseph
Authors: Tay Wee Teck, J., and Mccann, M.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > MRC/CSO Unit
College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Medicine, Dentistry & Nursing
Journal Name:International Journal of Drug Policy
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0955-3959
ISSN (Online):1873-4758
Published Online:01 December 2017
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2017 The Authors
First Published:First published in International Journal of Drug Policy 51:52-55
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
620221MRC SPHSU/GU Transfer FellowshipsLaurence MooreMedical Research Council (MRC)MC_PC_13027IHW - MRC/CSO SPHU
727661SPHSU Core Renewal: Complexity in Health Improvement Research ProgrammeLaurence MooreMedical Research Council (MRC)MC_UU_12017/14IHW - MRC/CSO SPHU
727671SPHSU Core Renewal: Informing Healthy Public Policy Research ProgrammePeter CraigMedical Research Council (MRC)MC_UU_12017/15IHW - MRC/CSO SPHU