Proved! Wealth Connected to Health

By Vishakha Sonawane, Parent Herald January 08, 09:20 am

Health and Wealth share a strong link and association, according to a new study.

Researchers at San Diego State University studied Google search patterns in the U.S. They found that during the recent recession, over 200 million more queries regarding health problems were reported.

The study was conducted between 2008 and 2011.

Researchers said that the health problems queried were not life threatening and included ulcers, headaches, and back pain.

For the study, the researchers began with five root words indicative of the most common health problems: "chest", "headache", "heart", "pain", and "stomach."

The researchers then measured the frequency of the queries involving those root terms during the recession. They came up with a list of 343 symptom queries, researchers stated in a press release.

They then calculated the search volume of those queries had there been no recession, this is called synthetic control. This included correcting for such variables as the growing availability of the Internet and increased usage.

The authors then compared these values with people's actual search behaviour. The observations found that certain symptoms were searched for with far more frequency during the recession. Searches for "stomach ulcer symptoms" were 228 percent higher than expected and "headache symptoms" were 193 percent higher, representing about 1.48 and 1.52 million excess searches.

Headache queries were up by 41 percent; 37 percent for hernia, 35 percent for chest pain and 32 percent for heart arrhythmias.

"The Great Recession undoubtedly got inside the body via the mind," John W. Ayers of San Diego State University, a study co-author, said. "Job loss or losing a home touched nearly everyone, directly or indirectly. But those who got away unscathed were probably not immune to the Great Recession's health implications, with many thinking 'I could be next'."

The new study has been published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

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