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Using internet search data to explore the global public concerns in ankylosing spondylitis
  1. Yong-Jun Mei1,
  2. Yan-Mei Mao2,3,
  3. Fan Cao4,
  4. Tao Wang1,
  5. Zhi-Jun Li1
  1. 1 Department of Rheumatology and Immunology, The First Affiliated Hospital of Bengbu Medical College, Bengbu, China
  2. 2 Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, School of Public Health, Anhui Medical University, Hefei, China
  3. 3 Anhui Province Key Laboratory of Major Autoimmune Diseases, Anhui Medical University, Hefei, China
  4. 4 Department of Clinical Medicine, The Second School of Clinical Medicine, Anhui Medical University, Hefei, China
  1. Correspondence to Dr Zhi-Jun Li, Department of Rheumatology and Immunology, The First Affiliated Hospital of Bengbu Medical College, Bengbu 233004, Anhui, China; lizhijun62{at}


Objective This study explored the changes of global public interest in internet search of ankylosing spondylitis (AS) based on Google Trends (GT) data, in order to reflect the characteristics of AS itself.

Methods GT was used to obtain the search popularity scores of the term ’AS’ on a global scale, between January 2004 and December 2018, under the ’health’ classification. Based on the global search data of AS provided by GT, the cosinor analysis was used to test whether there was seasonality in AS.

Results In general, AS related search volume demonstrated a decreasing trend from January 2004 to December 2014 and then remain stable from January 2015 to December 2018. No obvious seasonal variations were detected in AS related search volume (amplitude=1.54; phase: month=3.9; low point: month=9.9; p>0.025), which peaked in April and bottomed out in October. The top 17 rising topics were adalimumab, spondylolisthesis, Morbus, Vladimir Mikhailovich Bekhterev, autoimmune disease, rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosis, HLA- B27 positive, Crohn’s disease, rheumatology, spondylosis, arthritis, uveitis, rheumatism, sacroiliac, psoriatic arthritis and spondylitis.

Conclusions Globally, there is no significant seasonal variation in GT for AS. The top fast-growing topics related to AS may be beneficial for doctors to provide targeted health education of the disease to patients and their families.

  • rheumatology
  • epidemiology

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  • Y-JM and Y-MM contributed equally.

  • Contributors Y-JM and Y-MM carried out this study and wrote the manuscript; Z-JL conceived and designed this study and revised manuscript; Y-JM, Y-MM, FC and TW all involved in data collection and analysis.

  • Funding Bengbu Science and Technology Innovation Guidance Project (20180327).

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement Data are available upon reasonable request. The data used in this study is downloaded from the Google Trends website, which does not involve personal information, is anonymous and is open to the public. Data are available upon reasonable request.