Leveraging web search data in Germany to identify unmet needs of contraceptives on a population-based level: A longitudinal retrospective study

Charlotte Steiner, Hannah Wecker, Linda Tizek, Stefanie Ziehfreund, Sarah Preis, Kerstin Pfister, Viktoria Oberländer, Tilo Biedermann, Alexander Zink

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: There are a variety of possible contraceptives available. While medical advice is an important resource for selecting the individual contraceptive, previous research has shown that the Internet has become an increasingly important source of health care information. Objectives: This study aims to identify key trends in contraception-related web searches in Germany and thus allows conclusions about preferences and unmet needs with regard to pregnancy prevention. Design: Longitudinal retrospective study. Methods: Google Ads Keyword Planner was used to identify contraception-related keywords and their search volume in Germany and all federal states between 2018 and 2021. The keywords were categorized based on gender, hormonal/non-hormonal, and different contraceptive methods. Search volume and categories were analyzed for temporal trends, regional differences, and underlying socioeconomic variables. Results: The 1481 contraception-related keywords corresponded to 15,081,760 searches. In total, a 56% increase in searches/100,000 inhabitants was observed. Highest mean search volume was observed in categories “woman,” “woman/non-hormonal” and “woman/non-hormonal/barrier,” respectively, and in the federal state Hamburg, while the lowest was seen in North Rhine-Westphalia. Conclusion: The increase in search volume reflects a high interest in contraception, particularly in non-hormonal female methods. This stands in contrast to the limited number of effective non-hormonal contraceptives available and points to an unmet need. In addition, the low search volume for male contraceptives demonstrates gender-specific responsibilities regarding family planning in German society.

Original languageEnglish
JournalWomen's Health
Volume20
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2024
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • contraception awareness
  • female contraception
  • infodemiology
  • non-hormonal contraceptive methods
  • pregnancy prevention
  • unmet needs

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