"Michael Douglas" effect

Trevor Torgerson, Austin Johnson, Craig Cooper, Jam J. Khojasteh, Tom Hamilton, Matt Vassar

Research output: Contribution to conferencePoster


Background: In June 2013, celebrity actor Michael Douglas announced that he had received a diagnosis of throat cancer, which he attributed to the human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is the most common sexually transmitted disease, however the HPV vaccination rates are lower than other vaccines. Given the health disclosure of Michael Douglas's cancer, we queried whether this event had an effect on public awareness for HPV-related head and neck cancers (HNCs) or its prevention.

Methods: Using Google Trends and Twitter, we retrospectively analyzed search trends and Tweets for the keywords throat cancer, oral cancer, hpv vaccine, and human papillomavirus infection. We extracted data and compared it to an expected forecast found using an autoregressive integrated moving algorithm (ARIMA).

Results: During the week of disclosure, Google Trends data demonstrated an increase of 62.5% in hpv infection inquiries, 47.0% in hpv vaccine inquiries, 47.0% in oral cancer inquiries, and 81.5% in throat cancer inquiries above the expected. Tweets referencing hpv increased 127.2%; tweets referencing hpv (vaccine OR vaccination) increased 98.8%; tweets referencing hpv awareness increased 778.4%; tweets referencing oral cancer increased 1038.7%; and tweets referencing throat cancer increased 811.7% compared to the rest of 2013.

Conclusions: Data from Google Trends and Twitter indicated that Michael Douglas's disclosure of HPV-related HNC resulted in a substantial increase in public awareness and prevention methods for HPV-related HNC. Celebrity health disclosures may thus prove to be a cost-effective strategy to advocate for public health literacy, and positively influence public interest of specific health issues.
Original languageAmerican English
StatePublished - 4 Sep 2020
EventOklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences Research Day 2020 - Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences College of Osteopathic Medicine, Tulsa, United States
Duration: 27 Feb 202028 Feb 2020


ConferenceOklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences Research Day 2020
Country/TerritoryUnited States


Dive into the research topics of '"Michael Douglas" effect'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this