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Effective April 1, 2018 Jeremy Espino, Director of RODS Laboratory, assumed oversight of the NRDM as Fuchiang (Rich) Tsui accepts position at University of PA/Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. 

 
Home arrow NRDM arrow The Relationship Between Medication Sales and Health-seeking Behavior
The Relationship Between Medication Sales and Health-seeking Behavior

Jeremy Espino MD

The RODS Laboratory has conducted multiple published studies to understand the relationship between medication sales and epidemics.

If the patient decides not to seek treatment, he will seek other approaches or delay treatment. Therefore, data sources such as over-the-counter drug sale or self-treatment merchandise sales may provide the only information about these sick individuals

- Zeng and Wagner

We started with a review of the literature.  In 2001, Dr. Xiaoming Zeng (then a graduate student at the RODS Laboratory and now faculty at East Carolina University) created a model of patient health-seeking behavior.  In this model he found that "if the patient decides not to seek treatment, he will seek ther approaches or delay treatment. Therefore, data sources such as over-the-counter drug sale or self-treatment merchandise sales may provide the only information about these sick individuals"   This work was initially published in  Zeng, X. and Wagner, M. (2001), "Modeling the effects of epidemics on routinely collected data", Proceedings / AMIA ... Annual Symposium: 781-5. and later as a full journal publication.

 Model of Patient Behavior during Epidemics.

Additional work that year by Carnegie Mellon University colleague Dr. Anna Goldenberg used data from a grocery store chain and verified our initial hypothesis regarding the relationship between health-seeking behavior and medication purchases. This work can be found in Goldenberg, Anna, Shmueli, Galit, Caruana, Richard A and Fienberg, Stephen E (2002), "Early statistical detection of anthrax outbreaks by tracking over-the-counter medication sales.", Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 99, 8: 5237-40.   Goldenberg et al note that, "the sales of cough medication have widely varied patterns: a seasonal effect, with winter sales higher and more chaotic than summer sales, a weekly effect showing higher sales during weekends, peak sales on holidays, and low sales on days when many stores are closed"

Sales of cough OTC medication between 8/8/99 and 1/31/01: raw data (Left) and after preprocessing and de-noising



 
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