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Dermatology Online Journal

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The impact of ultraviolet radiation on sunburn-related search activity


We establish a strong, positive relationship between the Ultraviolet Index and Google search engine activity for sunburn-related terms in the United States. Using the Google Trends utility and data available from the National Weather service, we combine data from a twelve-year period to produce panel data for each state. We fit a time-series regression model of search activity and perform statistical tests on the resulting parameter estimates. This study lays the groundwork for using search-related data to assess the prevalence of, and attitudes about sunburn. By tracking the frequency of searches about preventative measures like “sunscreen” or “protective clothing” versus treatment measures like “sunburn relief,” researchers could measure the effectiveness of awareness and prevention programs.

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