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Health, pollution top social media discussion topics

Jan 24. 2019
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By The Nation

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Online channels being increasingly used for complaints about hospital services.

STROKES AND dust were the two most-discussed topics among Thai netizens last year, a recent survey has revealed. 

Conducted by the data company, Backyard Co Ltd, the survey found that Thais were particularly interested in the quality of private hospital services, strokes, chronic respiratory diseases (CRDs) and facilities for elderly care during their time online.

Net users often “talked” about hospitals in relation to their services (54.94 per cent), Backyard’s co-founder Kittipong Kitithawornkul said. This was followed by topics like complaints, scamming, lack of medical ethics and hype (22.75 per cent), hospitals’ environment (11.80 per cent), fees (7.30 per cent), location (1.72 per cent) and facilities (1.50 per cent). 

Interestingly, data also showed that people are turning to online channels to submit complaints about hospitals, up from 16 per cent in 2017 to 22 per cent last year, reflecting the growing importance of online comments, he said. 

Data also pointed to Thai people’s growing interest in certain diseases. Strokes, for example, ranked No 1, with people discussing the topic 111.42 per cent more than the year earlier, followed by CRDs (59.88 per cent) and chronic kidney disease (34.91 per cent). 

Researchers believe the move to ban trans or unsaturated fat by the Thai food agency may have inspired more discussions about strokes. 

In terms of online conversations related to medical check-up packages, data showed that Thai netizens “talked” more about packages for chronic respiratory diseases, 233.33 per cent more from the year earlier, chronic kidney disease (163.76 per cent) and strokes (89.32 per cent). 

Interestingly, as Bangkok struggles to cope with smog and fine PM2.5 dust particles, conversations about smog-related diseases such as allergy, heart disease, asthma and lung cancer are also on the rise.

In addition, online conversations regarding the wellness industry grew 75 per cent compared to the year earlier, though real estate topped the list. 

Meanwhile, online conversations about elderly care facilities rose as much as 180 per cent from the year earlier. 

People seem to be less interested in yoga, with 58 per cent fewer conversations about the subject compared to the year earlier. Now people seem to be more interested in healthy diets, with 128 per cent more discussions compared to 2017. This has been attributed to the popularity of intermittent fasting and the keto diet. 

Thai netizens also talked less about low-fat and low-calorie diets, and showed more interest in gluten-free (179.02 per cent up from 2017) and vegan diets (166.05 per cent). Unsurprisingly, there was also more discussion about protein alternatives. 

In order to combat office syndrome, researchers found that people were most interested in manipulative and body-based methods, with acupuncture and cupping therapy at the top of the list. 

“Online data shows that the healthcare and wellness business is very attractive, especially because online conversations related to this business grew as much as 85 per cent from 2017 to 2018,” Kittipong said.

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