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T-Space at The University of Toronto Libraries >
Journal of Medical Internet Research >
Volume 9 (2007) >

Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/9834

Title: Language Preferences on Websites and in Google Searches for Human Health and Food Information
Authors: Singh, Punam Mony
Wight, Carly A
Sercinoglu, Olcan
Wilson, David C
Boytsov, Artem
Raizada, Manish N
Keywords: Original Paper
food security
avian flu
Issue Date: 28-Jun-2007
Publisher: Gunther Eysenbach; Centre for Global eHealth Innovation, Toronto, Canada
Citation: Punam Mony Singh, Carly A Wight, Olcan Sercinoglu, David C Wilson, Artem Boytsov, Manish N Raizada. Language Preferences on Websites and in Google Searches for Human Health and Food Information. J Med Internet Res 2007;9(2):e18 <URL: http://www.jmir.org/2007/2/e18/>
Abstract: [This item is a preserved copy and is not necessarily the most recent version. To view the current item, visit http://www.jmir.org/2007/2/e18/ ] Background: While it is known that the majority of pages on the World Wide Web are in English, little is known about the preferred language of users searching for health information online. Objectives: (1) To help global and domestic publishers, for example health and food agencies, to determine the need for translation of online information from English into local languages. (2) To help these agencies determine which language(s) they should select when publishing information online in target nations and for target subpopulations within nations. Methods: To estimate the percentage of Web publishers that translate their health and food websites, we measured the frequency at which domain names retrieved by Google overlap for language translations of the same health-related search term. To quantify language choice of searchers from different countries, Google provided estimates of the rate at which its search engine was queried in six languages relative to English for the terms “avian flu,” “tuberculosis,” “schizophrenia,” and “maize” (corn) from January 2004 to April 2006. The estimate was based on a 20% sample of all Google queries from 227 nations. Results: We estimate that 80%-90% of health- and food-related institutions do not translate their websites into multiple languages, even when the information concerns pandemic disease such as avian influenza. Although Internet users are often well-educated, there was a strong preference for searching for health and food information in the local language, rather than English. For “avian flu,” we found that only 1% of searches in non-English-speaking nations were in English, whereas for “tuberculosis” or “schizophrenia,” about 4%-40% of searches in non-English countries employed English. A subset of searches for health information presumably originating from immigrants occurred in their native tongue, not the language of the adopted country. However, Spanish-language online searches for “avian flu,” “schizophrenia,” and “maize/corn” in the United States occurred at only <1% of the English search rate, although the US online Hispanic population constitutes 12% of the total US online population. Sub-Saharan Africa and Bangladesh searches for health information occurred in unexpected languages, perhaps reflecting the presence of aid workers and the global migration of Internet users, respectively. In Latin America, indigenous-language search terms were often used rather than Spanish. Conclusions: (1) Based on the strong preference for searching the Internet for health information in the local language, indigenous language, or immigrant language of origin, global and domestic health and food agencies should continue their efforts to translate their institutional websites into more languages. (2) We have provided linguistic online search pattern data to help health and food agencies better select languages for targeted website publishing.
Description: Reviewer: Bar-Ilan, Judit
URI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2196/jmir.9.2.e18
ISSN: 1438-8871
Rights: © Punam Mony Singh, Carly A Wight, Olcan Sercinoglu, David C Wilson, Artem Boytsov, Manish N Raizada. Originally published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (http://www.jmir.org, 28.06.2007). Except where otherwise noted, articles published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research are distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, including full bibliographic details and the URL (see "please cite as" above), and this statement is included.
Appears in Collections:Volume 9 (2007)

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