On 14 March 2020, in Spain, a state of alarm was declared owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. Given the seriousness of the pandemic and to protect public health, the Spanish government carried out a series of information campaigns to raise public awareness of the pandemic and convey general health measures to be adopted. Moreover, specific recommendations were disseminated to groups with a history of chronic diseases such as diabetes mellitus (DM) (a non-communicable disease (NCD)).
DM causes high direct and indirect costs to society and is a concern for governments and international public and private health institutions. It is a chronic metabolic disorder that, if not properly treated, can severely affect a patient’s health. To prevent or slow down the chronic complications and death caused by DM, patients need to approach this condition comprehensively, through considerable discipline, environmental support, and help from specialists to follow the appropriate guidelines. Proper metabolic control can only be achieved if patients’ behavioural patterns towards this pathology are favourable and they are willing to follow recommendations from relevant (official) health-related sources and assimilate healthy behaviours. Using current online health resources, it is possible to monitor the interest of individuals towards certain diseases. Based on techniques such as monitoring certain spaces on the web, especially those disseminating health information provided by official bodies, public interest in certain areas related to health can be observed.
This research aims to analyse public interest in health-related information, specifically DM, in 2020 through the Online Health Information Seeking Behaviour (OHISB).
The study has been carried out by analysing the time trends of the Google Trends to assess the change in the Relative Search Volume (RSV) as an indicator of the OHISB in the month before and after the government campaigns began. It was conducted in three phases: data collection through the Google Trends, data analysis within the context of awareness-raising actions carried out by the government, and interpretation of results. The analysis was carried out in March and April 2020, coinciding with the publication of government recommendations for people with chronic health conditions.