Study Reveals America’s Top Health Questions

Catherine Burger, MSOL, RN, NEA-BC | Updated/Verified: Apr 12, 2024

Health concerns are one of the most common reasons people turn to the internet for information. Before making the trip out to the doctor, self-diagnosing with the abundance of online health-related information is common practice. Plus, it's available without a copay. However, because not all online sources are accurate, now more than ever people need nursing professionals to accurately diagnose and treat health issues.

As registered nurses, it's crucial to be aware of the health concerns that are on the minds of our patients so we can stay on top of the updated medical information that is related to these concerns. For this reason, we analyzed Google Search data to find out what health-related questions Americans searched for the most.

Key Findings

  • "Flu symptoms," "diabetes symptoms," and "ADHD symptoms" are the most searched health terms in the nation.
  • Searches about the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), urinary tract infections, and menopause symptoms were increasingly popular from February 2022 to February 2023.
  • Since February 2022, searches about allergy symptoms and headaches have been decreasingly popular.

The Most Googled Health Questions

The ease and confidentiality of turning to Google for health-related questions leave the door open for any topic to be explored, and we wanted to find out what health topics Americans were investigating most.

We analyzed the most Googled health questions across the nation by the monthly search volume. Any search related to COVID-19 was excluded from our study so as to not make the list of top terms too monotonous.

We found that "flu symptoms" was the highest searched health-related question in Google with a search volume that almost doubles its runner-up "diabetes symptoms."

People are also curious about mental health, with 2 out of the top 5 search questions being geared toward mental health (ADHD, anxiety). Another common theme across the top terms is things that can be stress-induced like anxiety, high blood pressure, and sleep apnea.

When looking at the popularity in searches from February 2022 to February 2023, we found the terms that are increasingly popular this year as well as terms that decreased in search volume since February 2022.

  • The searches that are increasingly popular this year are:
    • What is RSV
    • What are the symptoms of a urinary tract infection
    • Menopause symptoms
  • Searches that are decreasingly popular this year include:
    • Allergy symptoms
    • How to get rid of a headache

Most Popular Health Questions by State

Across the nation, people have varying health concerns, and while different regions experience unique health challenges, we still discovered some similarities. In half of the states, we analyzed, questions about flu symptoms and calorie counting were unusually popular, meaning they had a higher search volume than the national average.

A factor that could lead Colorado, Minnesota, Montana, and Wyoming to share an interest in concussion symptoms, is the abundance of opportunities to practice extreme sports in the state like skiing and snowboarding.

Although there are 50 states, the list of the most popular health questions across America didn't cover 50 varieties of topics. Instead, the health concerns can be narrowed down to 13 topics: ADHD, allergies, anxiety, blood pressure, calorie consumption, concussions, depression, diabetes, flu, heart attacks, kidney stones, RSV, and UTI.

Most Popular Health Questions by City

As with the states, the health concerns across the 25 most populous cities share similarities, with the top searched terms being "flu symptoms" and "how many calories should i eat."

While all cities that had concerns about the flu were in the South, cities in California were equally interested in ADHD symptoms as they were in how many calories they should consume. In general, the top mental health issues cities searched for were about depression, anxiety, and ADHD.

Conclusion

Many people take their health-related questions to the internet from something minor like how to get rid of a headache to serious issues like heart attack symptoms. While the internet can be a great place to obtain credible information, it also contains a lot of inaccurate information that only medical professionals can help you sort out.

With the amount of misinformation, health-conscious consumers must wade through, now more than ever people need caring nursing professionals to guide them through their health concerns. From working in patient-facing to non-patient-facing positions and even work-from-home positions, a career in nursing offers a wide range of opportunities.

If you're looking for nursing education and employment resources, whether you're hoping to start your nursing career or are well into one, RegisteredNursing.org can help you achieve your goals.

Methodology

In February 2022 we analyzed more than 100 Google search terms related to health. The combined search volume reported represents a 12-month rolling average. COVID was excluded as a subject in our study so as to not make the list of top terms too monotonous.

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