Objectives: Identifying the gaps in public knowledge of women’s health related issues has always been difficult. With the increasing number of Internet users in the United States, we sought to use the Internet as a tool to help us identify such gaps and to estimate women’s most prevalent health concerns by examining commonly searched health-related keywords in Google search engine.
Methods: We collected a large pool of possible search keywords from two independent practicing obstetrician/gynecologists and classified them into five main categories (obstetrics, gynecology, infertility, urogynecology/menopause and oncology), and measured the monthly average search volume within the United States for each keyword with all its possible combinations using Google AdWords tool.
Results: We found that pregnancy related keywords were less frequently searched in general compared to other categories with an average of 145,400 hits per month for the top twenty keywords. Among the most common pregnancy-related keywords was “pregnancy and sex’ while pregnancy-related diseases were uncommonly searched. HPV alone was searched 305,400 times per month. Of the cancers affecting women, breast cancer was the most commonly searched with an average of 247,190 times per month, followed by cervical cancer then ovarian cancer.
Conclusion: The commonly searched keywords are often issues that are not discussed in our daily practice as well as in public health messages. The search volume is relatively related to disease prevalence with the exception of ovarian cancer which could signify a public fear.