Global Trends in Stem Cell Therapy: A Google Trends Analysis

Document Type : Original Article


1 PhD. Student in Medical Library and Information Sciences, Health Information Technology Research Center, Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, Isfahan, Iran.

2 Professor, Health Information Technology Research Center, Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, Isfahan, Iran

3 PhD. student, Health Care Management, Health Economics and Management Research Center, Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, Isfahan, Iran



Aim: Given the growing desire of people to obtain health information through the Internet, examining the web search process will provide valuable information to health professionals and policymakers. Analyzing the search terms of Google users can show their interests and tendencies. The present study studies the global trends in stem cell therapy in the last 5 years using Google Trends. In this research, the global search trends, the geographical distribution of search, the preferred search terms of users that can express the treatment preferences of treatment applicants, and the importance of treatment cost for potential treatment applicants have been considered.
Methodology: This is an applied and analytical study and data were collected and analyzed using Google Trends. Google Trends is one of the services of the Google company through which the needs and behaviors of Google users can be analyzed. The results are from July 19, 2015, to July 12, 2020.
Findings: The findings indicated that the search for "Stem cell therapy" has been an increasing trend in the period under review. Most searches were in the US, Singapore, and the Philippines. Also, the Asian countries of Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, Qatar, Malaysia, Kuwait, South Korea, and Hong Kong, the countries of Canada, New Zealand, England, and Ireland, and the African countries of Nigeria, Kenya, and South Africa are also among the 20 countries with the highest search volume index in the field of Stem cell therapy.
Iran was ranked 25th in terms of the search volume index. Stem cell therapy for knee pain, pain, autism, arthritis, Mesenchymal stem cell therapy, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease has attracted the attention of Google users. The results also indicate the importance of treatment costs for stem cell therapy in different countries. The most relevant searches in the field of treatment costs were conducted in the United States, Australia, India, Canada, and the United Kingdom.
Conclusion: Google Trends is an effective tool for investigating the process of Google users searching for stem cell therapy. The data provided can be used to identify countries in which treatment is sought, treatment priorities, and treatment demand. Accordingly, appropriate policies can be adopted to attract stem cell tourists. In this regard, information specialists can use the Google Trends tool to extract user search data in various fields related to health and provide it to health experts and policymakers for future planning.


Ahmadvand, A.R. & Foroghi, F. (2011). Increase in Google searches for information about breast cancer in Iran; Checking search trends with Google Trends service. In: Tehran: 8th International Breast Cancer Congress. [in persian]
Artola, C., Pinto, F., De Pedraza García, P. (2015). Can internet searches forecast tourism inflows? International Journal of Manpower, 36(1), 103-16. DOI:
Asgharzadeh, M. & Pourhaji, A. (2013). Stem cells and their application. Laboratory and Diagnostics, 6(23), 39-47. [in persian]
Azizi, F., Zahedi, Sh. (2014). Identification and evaluation of obstacles to the development of health tourism in Yazd province. Health Information Management, 12(6), 799-806. [in persian]
Bangwayo-Skeete, P.F. & Skeete, R.W. (2015). Can Google data improve the forecasting performance of tourist arrivals? Mixed-data sampling approach.Tourism Management, 46,
454-64. DOI:
Canchari, C.R.A., Chávez-Bustamante, S.G. & Caira-Chuquineyra, B.S. (2020). Exploratory analysis of internet search trends during the COVID-19 outbreak. Revista Cubana de Información en Ciencias de la Salud, 31(3), 1-20.
Cherry, G., Rocke, J., Chu, M., Liu, J., Lechner, M., Lund, V.J. & Kumar, B.N. (2020). Loss of smell and taste: a new marker of COVID-19? Tracking reduced sense of smell during the coronavirus pandemic using search trends. Expert Review of Anti-infective Therapy, 18(11), 1165-1170. DOI: htps://
Chin-Tsai, L., In-Fun, L. & Ya-Ling, H. (2009). Forecasting Thailand's Medical Tourism Demand and Revenue from Foreign Patients. Journal of grey system, 21(4), 369-376.
Choi, H. & Varian, H. (2012). Predicting the present with Google Trends. Economic Record, 88(s1), 2-9. DOI:
Connolly, R., O'Brien, T. & Flaherty, G. (2014). Stem cell tourism–A web-based analysis of clinical services available to international travellers. Travel medicine and infectious disease, 12(6), 695-701. DOI:
Cooper, C., Mallon, K., Leadbetter, S., Pollack, L. & Peipins, L. (2005). Cancer internet search activity on a major search engine, United States 2001-2003. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 7(3), 1-13. DOI: 10.2196/jmir.7.3.e36
Dreher, P.C., Tong, C., Ghiraldi, E. & Friedlander J.I. (2018). Use of Google trends to track online behavior and interest in kidney stone surgery. Urology, 121, 74-8.     
Ettredge, M., Gerdes, J. & Karuga, G. (2005). Using web-based search data to predict macroeconomic statistics. Communications of the ACM, 48(11), 87-92.    
Faoury, M., Upile, T. & Patel, N. (2019). Using Google Trends to understand information-seeking behaviour about throat cancer. The Journal of Laryngology & Otology, 133(7), 610-4.         
Higgins, T.S. & et al. (2020). Correlations of Online Search Engine Trends With Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Incidence: Infodemiology Study. JMIR public health and surveillance, 6(2), e19702. DOI: 10.2196/19702
Mason, A. &Wright, K.B. (2011). Framing medical tourism: an examination of appeal, risk, convalescence, accreditation, and interactivity in medical tourism web sites. Journal of Health Communication, 16(2), 163-77. DOI:
Moghavvemi, S. & et al. (2017). Connecting with prospective medical tourists online: A cross-sectional analysis of private hospital websites promoting medical tourism in India, Malaysia and Thailand. Tourism Management, 58, 154-63.        
Nikraftar, T., Hosseini, A. & Moghadam, A. (2016). Identifying effective factors in attracting medical tourists in Iran. Health Management, 20(67), 64-74.
Önder, I. & Gunter, U. (2016). Forecasting tourism demand with Google trends for a major European city destination. Tourism Analysis, 21(2-3), 203-20.   
Ozan-Rafferty, M.E., Johnson, J.A., Shah, GH. & Kursun, A. (2014). In the words of the medical tourist: an analysis of Internet narratives by health travelers to Turkey. Journal of medical Internet research, 16(2), 1-15. DOI: 10.2196/jmir.2694
Park, S., Lee, J. & Song, W. (2017). Short-term forecasting of japanese tourist inflow to South Korea using google trends data. Journal of Travel &Tourism Marketing, 34(3), 357-68.            
Petersen, A., Seear, K. & Munsie, M. (2014). Therapeutic journeys: the hopeful travails of stem cell tourists. Sociology of health & illness, 36(5), 670-85.        
Salter, B., Zhou, Y. & Datta, S. (2014). Health consumers and stem cell therapy innovation: markets, models and regulation. Regenerative medicine, 9(3), 353-66.
Shimshoni, Y., Efron, N. & Matias, Y. (2009). On the predictability of search trends. Google Research Blog.
Strotman, P.K., Novicoff, W.M., Nelson, S.J. & Browne, J.A. (2019). Increasing Public Interest in Stem Cell Injections for Osteoarthritis of the Hip and Knee: A Google Trends Analysis. The Journal of arthroplasty, 34(6), 1053-7. DOI:
Tijerina, J.D., Morrison, S.D., Nolan, I.T., Vail, D.G., Nazerali, R. & Lee, G.K. (2019). Google Trends as a tool for evaluating public interest in facial cosmetic procedures. Aesthetic Surgery Journal, 39(8), 908-18. DOI:
Vaughan, L. & Romero-Frías, E. (2014). Web search volume as a predictor of academic fame: an exploration of Google Trends. Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology, 65(4), 707-20. DOI:
Yang, X., Pan, B., Evans, J.A. & Lv, B. (2015). Forecasting Chinese tourist volume with search engine data. Tourism Management, 46, 386-97.