In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic impacted global life and transitioned economies and societal perceptions of life as we knew it. Professional and social life mostly ground to a nadir during the first lockdown in Europe in March. As a consequence, measures aimed at preventing the spread of the virus were established in medical facilities also and elective plastic surgery procedures were temporarily suspended in our clinic and others. A majority of the population, including those potentially contemplating plastic surgery procedures, spent most of their time at home with ample time available to research information about surgical procedures and other topics online. This investigation analyzes the relevance of plastic surgery during the pandemic on the basis of online search behavior patterns. Online traffic data from the online platform http://www.mooci.org were extracted using Google Analytics over a period of 6 months. The parameters analyzed were: pageviews, session duration, and bounce rate. Additionally, differentiation by areas of interest has been obtained. The data were compared and analyzed before and after the beginning of the first hard lockdown in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland. There were no significant differences in regard to pageviews and session duration when comparing time points before and after the beginning of the hard lockdown. The bounce rate exhibited a significant decrease after the beginning of the lockdown, implying a more conscious search for information and greater absorption and retention. There was no difference that could conclusively be attributed to the pandemic in terms of specific areas of interest researched. Society’s demand for information about plastic-surgical procedures continues to be steadily prevalent—despite, or even in particular, during a global pandemic. Providing reliable and readily available information about plastic surgery procedures is an important component of a functioning doctor–patient relationship and informed consent. This information may reflect society’s increased interest in plastic surgery during the pandemic, or be simply reflective of more spare time at hand to allow for such research. Further studies should investigate the relevance of elective procedures over the entire course of the pandemic.

Fuente: Humanities and Social Sciences Communications
Published: 24 March 2023