Investigation of COVID-19 Related Web Search Behaviors in Turkey: A Digital Epidemiology Study Using Google Trends

Creative Commons License


Turk Hijyen ve Deneysel Biyoloji Dergisi, vol.78, no.2, pp.133-146, 2021 (Refereed Journals of Other Institutions) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 78 Issue: 2
  • Publication Date: 2021
  • Doi Number: 10.5505/turkhijyen.2021.48991
  • Title of Journal : Turk Hijyen ve Deneysel Biyoloji Dergisi
  • Page Numbers: pp.133-146
  • Keywords: COVID-19, digital epidemiology, google trends, pandemic, public awareness, risk perception


© 2021. All Rights Reserved.Objective: The use of internet data is being increasingly prefering in health area for predicting and analysing human behavior. In addition online search data are being widely used to predicting and monitor diseases occurrence and outbreaks. The most popular tool in health area for use of internet data is Google Trends, an open online tool that provides both real-time and archived information. The purpose of this study is to explore the public awareness of COVID-2019 pandemic in Turkish using quantitative analysis of its digital footprints on the internet from January 1, 2020 to May 1, 2020. In addition, this study aims to investigate the relationship between online search behaviors about COVID-19 and the spreading speed of virus among different region and the effect of applied some precautionary strategies on search behavior. Methods: The following search terms were used to investigate awareness of COVID-19; “Corona+ Korona”,“Coronavirus+Koronavirüs+Koronavirus”,““Covid 19”+”Covid-19””, “Pandemi (pandemic)”, “Salgın (epidemic)”. In this study, plus sign (+) which means “OR” was used to represent the combination of those multiple terms. Then relative search volumes (RSV) were determined for the most searching these keywords in country. Finaly, for the purpose of comparing the difference of public perception and attention about COVID-19 across Turkey, 1) The similarity between the day when Ministry of Health announces the numbers of death and case, and nd the day when RSV reached the apex, 2) The similarity between the day when official autority announces the precaution strategy and the day when RSV reached the apex were evaluated. Results: Searches related to COVID-19 in Turkey rapidly increased following around 30th January 2020 when the epidemic was announced in China and reached a small peak. Then clear peak was seen around 26th February 2020 when the number of infections rapidly increased in Italy. Finally, the apex point was seen around 11 th March 2020 when the announcements of the first case in the country. The search interest was continued with the massive precaution measures which were taken such as the closure of schools, and mosques, and travel restrictions. The duration of public attention in Turkey was 26 days from the 11th March 2020 to the 5th April 2020. Conclusion: Results can be thought of as an attention measure that captures perceptions of risk, how this is reflected in online searcing behavior. It is important that until disease introduction to Turkey, there were lots of COVID-19 related searches. However, after mid-April, queries for all search terms had been dramatically declining. As a conclusion this study shows that the authorities should more strengthen the publicity of COVID-19 nationally and inform public.