A rapid method for assessing social versus independent interest in health issues: A case study of 'bird flu' and 'swine flu'
AbstractEffective communication strategies regarding health issues are affected by the way in which the public obtain their knowledge, particularly whether people become interested independently, or through their social networks. This is often investigated through localized ethnography or surveys. In rapidly-evolving situations, however, there may also be a need for swift, case-specific assessment as a guide to initial strategy development. With this aim, we analyze real-time online data, provided by the new 'Google Trends' tool, concerning Internet search frequency for health-related issues. To these data we apply a simple model to characterise the effective degree of social transmission versus decisions made individually. As case examples, we explore two rapidly-evolved issues, namely the world-wide interest in avian influenza, or 'bird flu', in 2005, and in H1N1, or 'swine flu', from late April to early May 2009. The 2005 'bird flu' scare demonstrated almost pure imitation for two months initially, followed by a spike of independent decision that corresponded with an announcement by US president George Bush. For 'swine flu' in 2009, imitation was the more prevalent throughout. Overall, the results show how interest in health scares can spread primarily by social means, and that engaging more independent decisions at the population scale may require a dramatic announcement to push a populace over the 'tipping point'.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.
Bibliographic InfoArticle provided by Elsevier in its journal Social Science & Medicine.
Volume (Year): 71 (2010)
Issue (Month): 3 (August)
Contact details of provider:
Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/wps/find/journaldescription.cws_home/315/description#description
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- Int - Health, Education, and Welfare - - - - -
- Tip - - - - - -
- poi - - - - - -
- H1N - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - -
- Inf - Health, Education, and Welfare - - - - -
- Soc - - - - - -
- net - - - - - -
- Tim - - - - - -
- ser - - - - - -
- Mod - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting - - - - -
- "Bi - - - - - -
- flu - - - - - -
You can help add them by filling out this form.
CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
- R. Bentley & Michael O’Brien & Paul Ormerod, 2011. "Quality versus mere popularity: a conceptual map for understanding human behavior," Mind and Society: Cognitive Studies in Economics and Social Sciences, Fondazione Rosselli, vol. 10(2), pages 181-191, December.
- Aleksandar Bradic, 2012. "The Role of Social Feedback in Financing of Technology Ventures," Papers 1301.2196, arXiv.org.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Zhang, Lei).
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.