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The term "infodemiology" (and the closely related term infoveillance) has been coined by Canadian researcher Gunther Eysenbach. Eysenbach defines "infodemiology" (or information epidemiology) as a "new research discipline and methodology [which deals with] the study of the determinants and distribution of health information [on the Internet]", with the ultimate goal to improve public health[1][2]

Eysenbach first used the term in the context of measuring and predicting the quality of health information on the web (i.e., measuring the "supply" side of information).[1] He later included into his definition methods and techniques which are designed to automatically measure and track health information "demand" (e.g., by analyzing search queries) as well as "supply" (e.g., by analyzing postings on webpages, in blogs, and news articles, for example through GPHIN) on the Internet with the overarching goal to inform public health policy and practice. In 2013, the Infovigil Project was launched in an effort bring the research community together to help realize this goal, and is funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

In a seminal paper Eysenbach demonstrated his point by showing a correlation between flu-related searches on Google (demand data) and flu-incidence data.[2] The method is shown to be better and more timely (i.e., can predict public health events earlier) than traditional syndromic surveillance methods such as reports by sentinel physicians.

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  1. ^ a b Gunther Eysenbach, "Infodemiology: The epidemiology of (mis)information". American Journal of Medicine. 2002 Dec 15; 113(9):763-5.
  2. ^ a b Gunther Eysenbach, "Infodemiology: Tracking Flu-Related Searches on the Web for Syndromic Surveillance". Proceedings of the AMIA Symposium 2006; 244-248
  • Eysenbach G. "SARS and population health technology". Journal of Medical Internet Research. 2003 Apr-Jun;5(2):e14. [1]
  • Gunther Eysenbach coins the term "Infodemiology" and wins AMIA award [News article on Centre for Global eHealth Innovation] (WebCited cached version)
  • Eysenbach G. "Infodemiology and infoveillance: framework for an emerging set of public health informatics methods to analyze search, communication and publication behavior on the Internet". Journal of Medical Internet Research, 2009 Mar 27;11(1):e11. [2]
  • Eysenbach G. "Infodemiology and infoveillance tracking online health information and cyberbehavior for public health." American Journal of Preventative Medicine. May 2011 40 (5 Suppl 2):S154-8. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2011.02.006.