The effect of the metal-on-metal hip controversy on Internet search activity
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- Phelan, N., Kelly, J.C. & Kenny, P. Eur J Orthop Surg Traumatol (2014) 24: 1203. doi:10.1007/s00590-013-1399-3
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The recall of the articular surface replacement (ASR) hip prosthesis in 2010 represents one of the most controversial areas in orthopaedic surgery in recent years. The aim of this study was to compare the impact of the metal-on-metal hip controversy on Internet search activity in four different regions and determine whether the number of related news reports affected Internet search activity. The Google Trends, Keywords and News applications were used to record the number of news articles and Internet search activity for the terms “hip recall”, “metal-on-metal hip” and “ASR hip” from October 2009 to October 2012 in the USA, the UK, Australia and Ireland. There was a large increase in search activity following the official recall in August 2010 in all countries. There was significantly greater search activity after the recall in Ireland compared with the UK for the search term “hip recall” (P = 0.004). For the term “metal-on-metal hip”, the UK had significantly more search activity (P = 0.0009). There was a positive correlation between the number of news stories in UK and Ireland with Internet search activity but not in the USA or Australia. Differences between countries affected by the same recall highlight the complex effects of the media on public awareness. The data demonstrates a window of opportunity prior to the official recall for the development of an awareness campaign to provide patients with accurate information.