Tracking internet interest in anabolic androgenic steroids (AAS) using Google Trends

First published: 10/05/2019 | Last updated: May 20th, 2019

Aims.

The non-medical injecting of AAS for the enhancement of muscularity is thought to be increasing. The internet has been identified as a primary source for AAS information and supplies. This study is intended to assess the feasibility of tracking trends in internet interest in various AAS compounds using Google Trends. 10 AAS products available to purchase online were investigated.

Design.

The Google Trends web tool was used to identify patterns of UK online interest in 10 AAS from January 2011 to December 2015. The output was in the form of time-series data suitable for further analysis.

Setting.

The Internet.

Participants.

Internet users using Google to perform web searches (88.9% market share).

Measurements.

Relative search volume for each AAS was obtained for the stated time period. Time series analysis was conducted to determine the presence of seasonality and trend. The Wilcoxon rank and Mann Kendall tests were used to identify statistical significance.

Findings and conclusions.

Consistent peaks in interest for all AAS in April to July correlate with user intentions of looking good for the summer. Health interventions targeting these periods of high interest may be more effective. Interest in AAS appears to be dropping for most compounds, with only Trenbolone, Anavar and Masteron showing an increasing trend. This indicates that the AAS market is dynamic and further research into why veterinarian drugs like Trenbolone are becoming more popular is warranted. The most popular AAS was Anavar, an oral compound. Users of Anavar may not benefit from harm reduction services targeting mainly drug injectors.

Conflicts of interest:

Funding Sources:None

No conflict of interest

Dr Joseph Tay Wee Teck