The Wallace Center, the Bixby Center for Population, Health & Sustainability, and Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department at UC Berkeley are working together to use online data sources to learn more about reproductive health seeking behaviors. Our team has developed a method to analyze search traffic using Google Trends, a tool released in 2009 that tells us how frequently any word or phrase has been searched in different locations and at different times.
Google search data offers an exciting and novel means of understanding unmet needs in sexual and reproductive health and can serve as an important complement to traditional clinical or survey data. Google search data can illuminate information that people are not comfortable sharing with their clinician or research survey. By accessing locally defined, large-scale Google data, we will assess reproductive health needs, compare our findings with clinic-based and state-level data from more traditional sources, gain insight into consumer needs and demands, strengthen the evidence pool and fill in information gaps to help family planning providers tailor information and services to meet demand of consumers.
The Wallace Center is currently funded by the David and Lucille Packard Foundation to examine reproductive health and family planning search behaviors in California, Louisiana, and Mississippi.