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Document Type

Thesis - University Access Only

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School

Mathematics and Statistics

First Advisor

Xijin Ge


Health awareness events, Google Trends, Cyclic pattern, Wilcoxon Rank-Sum test, inference about observed peak numbers, Holt-Winters additive exponential decompose.


Health awareness is important in disease control and prevention. Over two hundred health awareness events (also called “health observances” or “health campaigns”) are held in the United States every year to raise awareness of certain diseases or conditions. The effectiveness of these events is difficult to measure and quantify, but such information can be helpful for health organizations to optimize health campaigns and achieve maximum impact with limited resources. As many people obtain knowledge of public health from the Internet, this study aims to provide a survey of the effectiveness of major health awareness events in the United States based on Google search frequency. There are 46 disease-related health awareness monthly events selected as an objective of study. The frequencies of keyword searches for various diseases from 2004 to 2013 were downloaded from “Google Trends” service. In order to increase the confidence of classification, this study uses several statistical methods including quantitative analysis, Wilcoxon Rank-Sum test, inference about observed peak number, and Holt-Winters additive exponential decomposition. This paper evaluates the effectiveness of selected health awareness events, by examining whether these events are associated with increases in the search frequency of corresponding keywords. We believe xii the increasing search frequency of health topics can be useful in identifying the increasing acknowledgement of health awareness events. Our study show that some public health awareness events lead to statistically significant increases in web searches about related keywords. We found that twelve health awareness events were “effective” with evidence of a significant seasonal leap in search frequency with a considerable number of peaks in the event-months; twenty-three health awareness events were “ineffective” as they failed to demonstrate significant seasonality and peaks for event-months; and the rest of eleven health awareness events were “unclear” because of inconsistent results with different methods. We also extract Google News data to validate if effective health awareness events receive higher news coverage than the others. Five out of twelve effective health awareness events turn to be having comparably more news coverage. While in general, effective events do not have a significant higher level of media coverage than others.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Health education--Evaluation
Health promotion--Evaluation
Medicine, Preventive
Electronic information resource searching


Includes bibliographical references (pages 60-68)



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University



Rights Statement

In Copyright