A novel Corona virus (SARS-CoV-2), started in Wuhan China, caused an outbreak of viral pneumonia to subsequently spread throughout the world. Italy has been one of the most affected countries in the world and the increasing number of cases and deaths has created strong emotional reactions in people. This study has aimed at evaluating public attention to this emerging disease through the use of Google Trends. Public attention, measured as the volume of internet search activity, was correlated with Health Communication Strategies and official COVID-19 data. At the moment of the study analysis, Italy was by far the first country in terms of search volume for "coronavirus" and the highest peak of searches was reached on February 23, 2020. We have found that there was a correlation between public attention to coronavirus disease and communications from Public Health policies: we observed spikes in search volumes on the days of Presidential Decree publications. Furthermore, this attention was also correlated with Case Fatality Rate (CFR). Even if CFR data are continuously updated and can be affected by patient histories, the correlation found suggests that the increase in mortality has generated growing interest in the disease and its risk perception. This study shows that tracking searches through Google Trends as a public focus indicator is a useful tool for decision-makers in guiding communication strategies and should as well stimulate a more transparent media and policy making reporting.

Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic: How may communication strategies influence our behaviours?

Muselli, Mario;Cofini, Vincenza;Desideri, Giovambattista;Necozione, Stefano
2020

Abstract

A novel Corona virus (SARS-CoV-2), started in Wuhan China, caused an outbreak of viral pneumonia to subsequently spread throughout the world. Italy has been one of the most affected countries in the world and the increasing number of cases and deaths has created strong emotional reactions in people. This study has aimed at evaluating public attention to this emerging disease through the use of Google Trends. Public attention, measured as the volume of internet search activity, was correlated with Health Communication Strategies and official COVID-19 data. At the moment of the study analysis, Italy was by far the first country in terms of search volume for "coronavirus" and the highest peak of searches was reached on February 23, 2020. We have found that there was a correlation between public attention to coronavirus disease and communications from Public Health policies: we observed spikes in search volumes on the days of Presidential Decree publications. Furthermore, this attention was also correlated with Case Fatality Rate (CFR). Even if CFR data are continuously updated and can be affected by patient histories, the correlation found suggests that the increase in mortality has generated growing interest in the disease and its risk perception. This study shows that tracking searches through Google Trends as a public focus indicator is a useful tool for decision-makers in guiding communication strategies and should as well stimulate a more transparent media and policy making reporting.
File in questo prodotto:
File Dimensione Formato  
1-s2.0-S2212420920314849-mainMUselli.pdf

accesso aperto

Tipologia: Documento in Post-print
Licenza: Dominio pubblico
Dimensione 1.77 MB
Formato Adobe PDF
1.77 MB Adobe PDF Visualizza/Apri

I documenti in IRIS sono protetti da copyright e tutti i diritti sono riservati, salvo diversa indicazione.

Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11697/152311
Citazioni
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.pmc??? 5
  • Scopus 9
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.isi??? 9
social impact