Rutgers New Jersey Medical School Newark, NJ, United States
Aaron Kahlam, MD1, Salil Chowdhury, MD2, Jasneel Kahlam, BA3, Sushil Ahlawat, MD1 1Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, Newark, NJ; 2Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, Newark, NJ; 3New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine, Old Westbury, NY
Introduction: Society’s interest in common diseases is often influenced by public figures and current events. Understanding when interest in particular diseases is high may provide an opportunity for physicians to educate patients. Previous research has looked at search trends related to colon cancer over several years preceding the COVID-19 pandemic. Given the changes of the pandemic as well as the highly publicized death of actor Chadwick Boseman, we analyzed how trends shifted over a 15-month period to understand recent shifts in colon cancer interest.
Methods: Google Trends was used to access search histories in the United States from January 1, 2020 through April 30, 2021. Search terms analyzed over this period included: “‘colon cancer’”, “colonoscopy” “Cologuard” and “‘virtual colonoscopy’”. Google Trends reports data as relative search volume (RSV), a scaled number from 0-100 reflecting the level of interest in a particular search term over a defined period. Search terms were analyzed on their individual scale and compared on the same scale.
Results: Google Trends data was reported weekly. On its individual scale, the RSV for the term “colon cancer” averaged 15.4. During the week of 8/23/20 – 8/29/20 search volume peaked at 100, before decreasing to 67 the following week and returning to its baseline in the week after. For the term “colonoscopy” RSV averaged 88.8 from 1/1/2020 to 3/15/2020, before decreasing suddenly. By the week of 8/23/20 search volume had returned to previous levels. “Cologuard” RSV averaged 43.4 and peaked in March 2020 and 2021. RSV for “virtual colonoscopy” averaged 39.0 but varied widely. Comparing all terms, “colonoscopy” and “colon cancer” had average RSV’s of 17 and 16, respectively. Searches for “colon cancer” still peaked at 100 in the last week of August 2020, with little change in other search terms.
Discussion: The peak in colon cancer search volume observed in late August of 2020 corresponds to the death of actor Chadwick Boseman from colon cancer on 8/28/2020. Colonoscopy interest decreased during the COVID-19 pandemic, before returning to previous levels around the time of Boseman’s death. However, when studied on the same scale, searches for colon cancer screening methods remained the same while interest in colon cancer spiked dramatically. This potentially represents a missed opportunity for physicians to increase awareness and educate patients on this preventable disease.
Aaron Kahlam indicated no relevant financial relationships.
Salil Chowdhury indicated no relevant financial relationships.
Jasneel Kahlam indicated no relevant financial relationships.
Sushil Ahlawat indicated no relevant financial relationships.
Aaron Kahlam, MD1, Salil Chowdhury, MD2, Jasneel Kahlam, BA3, Sushil Ahlawat, MD1. P2343 - The Boseman Effect: A Missed Opportunity?, ACG 2021 Annual Scientific Meeting Abstracts. Las Vegas, Nevada: American College of Gastroenterology.