School closures and well-being-related topic searches on Google during the COVID-19 pandemic in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Publication date: Jun 27, 2023

Following the outbreak of the 2020 coronavirus, governments adopted non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) to save lives. The NPIs have been deemed to have unintended consequences on mental health and well-being. This study aimed to estimate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic-induced school closures on the relative search volumes (RSVs) of well-being-relevant topics in 30 low and lower- middle income countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. Google Trends search data, difference-in-differences and event study methods were used to evaluate the impact on the related search volume (RSV) of well-being related topic queries in Sub-Saharan Africa. The results suggest positive and significant increases in the search intensity for anger, boredom, fear, sleep, exercise, and prayer. Contrary to other studies, we find no discernible effects on the relative search volumes (RSVs) on loneliness, sadness, and suicide. Our findings suggest that the pandemic and the associated restrictions had a mixed effect on well-being-related searches. We recommend increased vigilance and proactive communication from the government and policy makers with the general population in times of emergencies when social policies that restrict lives and liberties need to be adopted.

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Concepts Keywords
Africa COVID-19
Google Empirical methods
Pandemic Google Trends
Pharmaceutical School Closures
Sleep Sub-Saharan Africa


Type Source Name
disease MESH COVID-19 pandemic
disease VO volume
disease MESH loneliness
disease MESH suicide
disease VO population
disease MESH emergencies
pathway REACTOME Reproduction
disease IDO pathogen
disease VO vaccine
disease MESH morbidity
disease VO time
drug DRUGBANK Stavudine
disease MESH death
drug DRUGBANK Pentaerythritol tetranitrate
disease IDO country
drug DRUGBANK Trestolone
disease IDO process
drug DRUGBANK Coenzyme M
drug DRUGBANK Nitroglycerin
disease VO data set
drug DRUGBANK Methylergometrine
disease VO Optaflu
disease MESH complications
disease MESH Panic
drug DRUGBANK Fenamole
disease MESH suicidal ideation
disease MESH infection
disease VO effective
disease VO document
drug DRUGBANK Cysteamine
drug DRUGBANK Ademetionine
disease VO report
disease MESH causes
disease VO protocol
disease MESH infectious disease
disease MESH shock
disease VO organ
disease MESH insomnia

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