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European Journal of Dermatology

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Regional differences and seasonal variation of the burden of skin diseases in southern Germany: a retrospective analysis of internet data Volume 32, issue 6, November-December 2022

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Authors
1 Technical University of Munich, School of Medicine, Department of Dermatology and Allergy, Munich, Germany
2 Technical University of Munich, School of Medicine, Institute of General Practice and Health Services Research, Munich, Germany
3 Division of Dermatology and Venereology, Department of Medicine Solna, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden
Reprints: Alexander Zink

Background

Skin diseases are associated with a considerable burden for patients and their relatives. Not every affected individual, however, seeks medical health care and their families are often forgotten, which makes it challenging to identify all unmet needs.

Objectives

This study aimed to identify regional differences and seasonal variations related to dermatology via an internet search and further investigate whether regional factors influence search behaviour.

Materials & Methods

A retrospective longitudinal study using Google Ads Keyword Planner was carried out to identify skin disease-related terms throughout Bavaria, southern Germany, from June 2015 to May 2019. Terms were categorized and assessed for regional and seasonal differences.

Results

From 976 human skin-related terms, with a total search volume of 9,928,630 queries, 7,988,220 referred to “human skin disease”, with a higher search volume in rural compared to urban areas (p = 0.012). Search queries for “allergy” and “human skin diseases” displayed significant seasonality (p>0.001 and p = 0.002, respectively).

Conclusion

Future monitoring and assessment of this type of Google data for predefined regional areas could identify specific medical needs and provide timed and targetgroup-oriented medical care and information. These could be beneficial for affected people, their family members, physicians, and public health officials