Symptoms Prompting Interest in Celiac Disease and the Gluten-Free Diet: Analysis of Internet Search Term Data.

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Symptoms Prompting Interest in Celiac Disease and the Gluten-Free Diet: Analysis of Internet Search Term Data.

J Med Internet Res. 2019 04 08;21(4):e13082

Authors: Lebwohl B, Yom-Tov E

BACKGROUND: Celiac disease, a common immune-based disease triggered by gluten, has diverse clinical manifestations, and the relative distribution of symptoms leading to diagnosis has not been well characterized in the population.
OBJECTIVE: This study aimed to use search engine data to identify a set of symptoms and conditions that would identify individuals at elevated likelihood of a subsequent celiac disease diagnosis. We also measured the relative prominence of these search terms before versus after a search related to celiac disease.
METHODS: We extracted English-language queries submitted to the Bing search engine in the United States and identified those who submitted a new celiac-related query during a 1-month period, without any celiac-related queries in the preceding 9 months. We compared the ratio between the number of times that each symptom or condition was asked in the 14 days preceding the first celiac-related query of each person and the number of searches for that same symptom or condition in the 14 days after the celiac-related query.
RESULTS: We identified 90,142 users who made a celiac-related query, of whom 6528 (7%) exhibited sustained interest, defined as making a query on more than 1 day. Though a variety of symptoms and associated conditions were also queried before a celiac-related query, the maximum area under the receiver operating characteristic curve was 0.53. The symptom most likely to be queried more before than after a celiac-related query was diarrhea (query ratio [QR] 1.28). Extraintestinal symptoms queried before a celiac disease query included headache (QR 1.26), anxiety (QR 1.10), depression (QR 1.03), and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (QR 1.64).
CONCLUSIONS: We found an increase in antecedent searches for symptoms known to be associated with celiac disease, a rise in searches for depression and anxiety, and an increase in symptoms that are associated with celiac disease but may not be reported to health care providers. The protean clinical manifestations of celiac disease are reflected in the diffuse nature of antecedent internet queries of those interested in celiac disease, underscoring the challenge of effective case-finding strategies.

PMID: 30958273 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]