Association of Socioeconomic and Geographic Factors With Google Trends for Tanning and Sunscreen

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Abstract

BACKGROUND

Internet search trends are used to track both infectious diseases and noncommunicable conditions.

OBJECTIVE

The authors sought to characterize Google Trends search volume index (SVI) for the terms “sunscreen” and tanning (“tanning salon” and “tanning bed”) in the United States from 2010 to 2015 and analyze association with educational attainment, average income, and percent white data by state.

METHODS

SVI is search frequency data relative to total search volume. Analysis of variance, univariate, and multivariate analyses were performed to assess seasonal variations in SVI and the association of state-level SVI with state latitudes and census data.

RESULTS

Hawaii had the highest SVI for sunscreen searches, whereas Alaska had the lowest. West Virginia had the highest SVI for tanning searches, whereas Hawaii had the lowest. There were significant differences between seasonal SVI for sunscreen and tanning searches (p < .001). Sunscreen SVI by state was correlated with an increase in educational attainment and average income, and a decrease in latitude (p < .05) in a multivariate model. Tanning SVI was correlated with a decrease in educational attainment and average income, and an increase in latitude (p < .05).

CONCLUSION

Internet search trends for sunscreen and tanning are influenced by socioeconomic factors, and could be a tool for skin-related public health.

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