Information-seeking vs. sharing: Which explains regional health? An analysis of Google Search and Twitter trends
Kokil Jaidka, Johannes Eichstaedt, Salvatore Giorgi, H. Andrew Schwartz, Lyle H Ungar
Telematics and Informatics
Users’ information-seeking and information-sharing behavior provide socioeconomic and psychological insights that are useful to understand regional trends in health. We study the spatial variations in aggregate Google Search and Twitter trends across 208 Designated Market Areas (DMAs) in the United States and their association with regional health. We find that information-seeking behavior from Google Trends data is better able to predict the prevalence of non-communicable diseases and impending behavioral risks, with an average gain of 19% over sociodemographics and regional controls, and of 15% over information-sharing behavior on Twitter. Both kinds of digital traces track cultural and socioeconomic contexts; however, information-seeking behavior provides insights into personal habits, while information-sharing provides psychological insights. Our findings can be applied to design online and offline human-centered health interventions that target at-risk populations through a knowledge of their lifestyle and concerns.