Skip to main content

Global impact of World Sepsis Day on digital awareness of sepsis: an evaluation using Google Trends

World Sepsis Day (WSD) was established by the Global Sepsis Alliance in 2012 and is held every 13th of September. One of the objectives is to raise global awareness of sepsis. Despite its high mortality rate [1], an international survey reported that 80–90% of the public in western countries are unfamiliar with sepsis [2]. Anno 2018, public knowledge is no longer solely obtained via television and newspapers, but is largely acquired via the Internet and social media. These resources therefore contribute to digital awareness, and can be used to share knowledge. We aimed to investigate whether WSD is indeed associated with a global increase in digital information-seeking behaviour.

By using Google Trends™ data, which are presented as the relative search volume (RSV) [3], we investigated global digital information-seeking on the terms “sepsis”, “septicemia” and “blood poisoning”. The methods were similar to previous work that investigated the effect of World Thrombosis Day on digital information-seeking [4]. The years 2012–2016, in which WSD was held, were considered as exposure years, with the preceding 5 years (i.e. 2007–2011) serving as control years. The period of interest was defined as the 4 weeks surrounding WSD and compared with the control period, defined as the remaining weeks of the year. Global RSV data were downloaded on the 29th of September 2017 using the “health” category. Data were downloaded for each year separately. Mean differences in RSV, both absolute and as percentages, between the period of interest and the control period were estimated for each year separately.

In the years that WSD was held, with the exception of the year 2012 when WSD was first introduced, we found a significant increase in digital information-seeking for the weeks surrounding WSD on terms related to sepsis compared with the remaining weeks of the year (Table 1 and Fig. 1). This was not the case for the years in which WSD was not yet held. The strengths of our approach are the focus on all-encompassing terms and the ability of comparing exposure years to control years. However, we assumed that an increase in digital information-seeking reflects an increase in awareness on sepsis, but we do not know whether an increase in digital information-seeking equals an increase in awareness.

Table 1 Mean differences in relative search volume between the period of interest and the control period
Fig. 1
figure1

Mean differences in relative search volume between the period of interest (4 weeks surrounding World Sepsis Day) and the control period (remaining weeks of the corresponding year) expressed as percentages. WSD World Sepsis Day

In conclusion, our findings suggest that WSD has an important impact on digital awareness, which could be objectified with Google Trends™.

Abbreviations

RSV:

Relative search volume

WSD:

World Sepsis Day

References

  1. 1.

    Liu V, Escobar GJ, Greene JD, et al. Hospital deaths in patients with sepsis from 2 independent cohorts. JAMA. 2014;312:90–2.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  2. 2.

    Reinhart K, Kissoon NT, Daniels R, et al. What we learned from the first World Sepsis Day. J Crit Care. 2012;27:735–6.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  3. 3.

    Nuti SV, Wayda B, Ranasinghe I, et al. The use of google trends in health care research: a systematic review. PLoS One. 2014;9:e109583.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  4. 4.

    Scheres LJ, Lijfering WM, Middeldorp S, et al. Influence of World Thrombosis Day on digital information seeking on venous thrombosis: a Google Trends study. J Thromb Haemost. 2016;14:2325–8.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

Not applicable.

Funding

The authors have no funding to report.

Availability of data and materials

The datasets used and/or analysed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Contributions

JS conceived the study, participated in its design, analysed the data and drafted the manuscript. TAMC and TSRvE participated in designing and revision of the manuscript. LJJS participated in analysing the data, and designing and revision of the manuscript. WJW participated in the design and coordination of the study, and revision of the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Jelmer Savelkoel or W. Joost Wiersinga.

Ethics declarations

Ethics approval and consent to participate

Not applicable.

Consent for publication

Not applicable.

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Publisher’s Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Savelkoel, J., Claushuis, T.A.M., van Engelen, T.S.R. et al. Global impact of World Sepsis Day on digital awareness of sepsis: an evaluation using Google Trends. Crit Care 22, 61 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13054-018-1981-5

Download citation