During the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Lin found in real-time that places with fewer online searches for “handwashing” saw a faster spread of the virus. The finding was published in Brain Behavior and Immunity(IF=15.1) and has been cited over 200 times to date. At the time of publication, the well-known news agency, Reuters, conducted an overseas interview on the methodology and public health significance of this study. Likewise, the study has since been shared by dozens of domestic media outlets, including The Reporter, which conducted an in-depth interview with Dr. Lin on the ideation and development of the study’s innovative research method.
After establishing the methodology for making cross-national comparison of internet search volumes, in which the search volumes of three mental health keywords, “insomnia,” “depression,” and “suicide,” were considered as indicators of mental health, Dr. Lin found that “insomnia” was the most sensitive indicator of mental health affected by the pandemic worldwide. The results were also published in the top medical informatics journal, Journal of Medical Internet Research (IF=7.4).  Furthermore, Dr. Lin used mobile phone location data recorded in open databases to quantify the degree of stay-at-home restrictions in different countries during the pandemic. This indicator was used as a mediator for causal analysis and it was found that the degree of stay-at-home restrictions was the most important mediator affecting mental health during the pandemic. This result provides important empirical evidence for the future flexible adjustment of stay-at-home policies, such as considering the potential impact of stay-at-home restrictions on mental health of the population when vaccines and antiviral drugs become widely available. This study, which tracked 45 countries for one year, was recently published in the top journal of psychiatry, Journal of Affective Disorders (IF=6.6). In addition to the of three aforementioned papers, Dr. Lin also used the same method to present the dynamic changes in Taiwanese people’s willingness to receive COVID-19 vaccinations during the pandemic. He published his findings in Frontiers in Public Health (IF=5.2), and was invited to speak at the International Congress on Infectious Diseases.


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