Public Interest and Behavior Change in the United States Regarding Colorectal Cancer Following the Death of Chadwick Boseman: Infodemiology Investigation of Internet Search Trends Nationally and in At-Risk Areas

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2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Colorectal cancer (CRC) has the third highest cancer mortality rate in the United States. Enhanced screening has reduced mortality rates; however, certain populations remain at high risk, notably African Americans. Raising awareness among at-risk populations may lead to improved CRC outcomes. The influence of celebrity death and illness is an important driver of public awareness. As such, the death of actor Chadwick Boseman from CRC may have influenced CRC awareness. Objective: We sought to assess the influence of Chadwick Boseman’s death on public interest in CRC in the United States, evidenced by internet searches, website traffic, and donations to prominent cancer organizations. Methods: We used an auto-regressive integrated moving average model to forecast Google searching trends for the topic “Colorectal cancer” in the United States. We performed bivariate and multivariable regressions on state-wise CRC incidence rate and percent Black population. We obtained data from the American Cancer Society (ACS) and the Colon Cancer Foundation (CCF) for information regarding changes in website traffic and donations. Results: The expected national relative search volume (RSV) for colorectal cancer was 2.71 (95% CI 1.76-3.66), reflecting a 3590% (95% CI 2632%-5582%) increase compared to the expected values. With multivariable regression, the statewise RSV increased for each percent Black population by 1.09 (SE 0.18, P<.001), with 42% of the variance explained (P<.001). The American Cancer Society reported a 58,000% increase in CRC-related website traffic the weekend following Chadwick Boseman’s death compared to the weekend before. The Colon Cancer Foundation reported a 331% increase in donations and a 144% increase in revenue in the month following Boseman’s death compared to the month prior. Conclusions: Our results suggest that Chadwick Boseman’s death was associated with substantial increases in awareness of CRC. Increased awareness of CRC may support earlier detection and better prognoses.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere29387
JournalJMIR Infodemiology
Volume1
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2021

Keywords

  • Chadwick Boseman
  • colerectal cancer
  • data analytics
  • Google Trends
  • infodemiology
  • public health
  • search analytics
  • Twitter

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