Consulting “Dr Google” for sexual dysfunction: a contemporary worldwide trend analysis

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Google Trends (GT) is a free, easily accessible search tool which can be used to analyze worldwide “big data” on the relative popularity of search terms over a specific period of time. To determine worldwide public interest in Peyronie’ disease (PD), erectile dysfunction (ED), premature ejaculation (PE) treatments, their penetrance, variation, and how they compare over time. Worldwide search-engine trends analysis included electronic Google queries from people who searched PD, ED, and PE treatments options from January 2004 to October 2018, worldwide. Join-point regression (JPR) has been performed. Comparison annual relative search volume (ARSV), average annual percentage change (AAPC) and temporal patterns were analyzed to assess loss or gain of interest. Our results showed that for PD it has been a decreased interest for Drug (AAPC: −3.1%, p < 0.01), ESWT (AAPC: −3.1%, p < 0.01), and vacuum therapy (AAPC: −1.2%, p < 0.01). In the field of ED, we observed trends toward an increased interest in prosthetic surgical treatment (AAPC: +1.7%, p = 0.4), for prostaglandins (AAPC: +0.7%, p = 0.7), for traction (AAPC: +0.6%, p = 0.1) and for ESWT (AAPC: +1.8%, p = 0.4), but without statistical significance. On the contrary, we observed a slight reduction of search for Vacuum device (AAPC: −1 %, p < 0.01). The interest in PE decreased from 2004 to today (AAPC: −1%, p < 0.01), for surgical treatment (AAPC: −3.1%, p < 0.01), drug treatment (AAPC: −3.1%, p < 0.01), and for psychotherapy (AAPC: −6.7%, p < 0.01). On the contrary, the interest in spray drugs has increased significantly (AAPC: +5.1%, p < 0.01). Patients are searching the web for sexual diseases treatment options. Understanding people inquisitiveness together with degree of knowledge could be supportive to guide counseling in the decision-making-process and put effort in certifying patient information, avoiding them to fall in the pernicious trap of ‘fake-news’.

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Correspondence to Giorgio Ivan Russo.

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Russo, G.I., di Mauro, M., Cocci, A. et al. Consulting “Dr Google” for sexual dysfunction: a contemporary worldwide trend analysis. Int J Impot Res (2019) doi:10.1038/s41443-019-0203-2

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