|Korea University Medical Students Confirmed ‘Corona Blue’ among Koreans Based on Naver Search Terms|
|Date||Modified Date : 2022.06.16|
Koreans searched ‘depressed mood’ and ‘feeling lethargic’ more during the COVID-19 pandemic
Undergraduate students at the Korea University College of Medicine analyzed the internet search terms entered into Naver, the biggest portal site in Korea, and published a research paper suggesting that Koreans felt depressed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jieun Kim and Juhui Han, senior students of Korea University College of Medicine at that time, who graduated from the school in February, participated in the research team led by Professor Byung Chul Chun of the Department of Preventive Medicine as student researchers. They analyzed trends of internet search volume in Naver to demonstrate the prevalence of ‘corona blue’ caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing.
Also, the research team compared the search terms used in 2020 between the period with strengthened social distancing and the rest of the year. Under the social distancing level two or higher, the volume of searches for “depressed mood,” “restlessness,” “impaired concentration,” and “indecisiveness” went up significantly. The search volume for “insomnia” became relatively higher in the initial phase of the pandemic and fell over time. However, with the prolongation of the pandemic, the search volume for ‘wanting to die’ gradually increased. This suggests that simple depressed mood can progress to more severe disease, indicating that psychological health problem should be considered together with social distancing.
The research team analyzed big data to confirm the psychological health issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. They proved that psychological health was reflected to the internet search terms entered into Naver, the most popular portal site among Koreans. The study is meaningful because, although similar studies have been conducted in other countries, there have been few studies on search terms in Korea using big data from Naver.
“We are grateful to Korea University College of Medicine for giving us its support for student research activity to conduct such a wonderful research, and we are pleased that the our paper has been finally published,” said co-lead authors, Jieun Kim and Juhui Han. They also expressed their appreciation, saying: “We found the statistical analysis difficult. However, we were able to address those difficulties thanks to the support and guidance of our advisor.”
“This research is meaningful because it indirectly showed the association between COVID-19 and depressed mood, which we had assumed. It statistically proved that there was an increased volume of search terms related to major depressive disorder after the outbreak of COVID-19,” said Professor Byung Chul Chun, who led the research team. “Being able to identify health problems endured by the Korean public, such as depression, using Naver search terms is an important finding. I expect that students of Korea University College of Medicine to grow into medical scientists who will continue their research with an adventurous attitude by blazing a trail in uncharted territories.”
The research result was published under the title, Trends of Internet Search Volumes for Major Depressive Disorder Symptoms During the COVID-19 Pandemic in Korea: An Interrupted Time-Series Analysis in the latest issue of the Journal of Korean Medical Science, a SCI journal published by the Korean Academy of Medical Sciences.