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

Uchechi Shirley ANADUAKA, Ayomide Oluwaseyi OLADOSU*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Background
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.

Methods
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.

Results
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.

Conclusion
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.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1248
JournalBMC Public Health
Volume23
Issue number1
Early online date27 Jun 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to express their gratitude to The National Research Foundation (NRF) and the Sexual and Reproductive Health Research Network for their valuable assistance in reviewing this manuscript and providing constructive comments during its development. The support and expertise of two anonymous reviewers during the COVID-19 and Sexual and Reproductive Health conference were instrumental in shaping the final version of this paper.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, The Author(s).

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • School Clsoures
  • Well-being
  • Google Trends
  • Empirical methods
  • Sub-Saharan Africa
  • School Closures

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