Inspired by topnaman’s graphical display of the waning attention that has been given to malaria over the decades as well as one I saw recently presented at a conference in Amsterdam on AIDS, I thought I would also use a new and nifty feature on google – ngrams – to display what I think has been one of the most significant trends in global health during the past decade – namely the way in which we describe the field.   Ngrams capture the number of times a given term gets used in books.

I frequently get asked what is the difference between the terms “international health” and “global health”.  My general answer is that global health is the study and practice of health issues that transcend international borders (a line I suspect I stole from HSPH Dean Julio Frenk at some point) vs. international health which is the study of health issues that affect people living in the developing world.  Global health is a newer terms that has incorporated numerous perspectives and has moved the field away from what was once a mostly clinical or basic science field.  It also reflects the more “globalized” world in which we now live.  I’ve argued that international health is outdated, although not everyone agrees.

The above is an ngram from 1900 to 2010 showing the way in which international health was once the dominant term used to described the field but that it has now been overshadowed by the term global health, which has really only been in use for a few decades.  Great!  Now I have a good graph to prove my point.

By the way, the AIDS/HIV graph that was presented at a conference in Amsterdam is also super fascinating, so I’ve uploaded it as well.  Read what you want into it.

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18 Responses to “The rise of Global Health: global health vs. international health”

  1. RT @KarenGrepin: My ngram contribution: #globalhealth vs. #internationalhealth http://bit.ly/h5QQle (blog post)

  2. NU_FSM says:

    RT @debelzie: RT @KarenGrepin: My ngram contribution: #globalhealth vs. #internationalhealth http://bit.ly/h5QQle (blog post)

  3. Deb Bryant says:

    RT @debelzie: RT @KarenGrepin: My ngram contribution: #globalhealth vs. #internationalhealth http://bit.ly/h5QQle (blog post) #hit

  4. RT @KarenGrepin: My ngram contribution: #globalhealth vs. #internationalhealth http://bit.ly/h5QQle (blog post)

  5. Brett Keller says:

    Nice graph. I think it's important to note that this would include any use of "international" and "health" contiguously (or the same with global health). So saying the phrase "international health care standards differ greatly" and "I am interested in the field of international health" would both show up as mentions of international health. Also, if you compare "international public health" and "global public health" (see graph here) the former is more frequently mentioned as have actually been growing faster than global public health.

  6. Laurel Chor says:

    My major: i. health – have also noticed how it's been taken over RT @KarenGrepin #globalhealth vs. #internationalhealth http://bit.ly/h5QQle

  7. via @karengrepin Learned about Google's ngrams & global health vs. international health definitions (I also use GH now) http://bit.ly/h5QQle

  8. Very cool RT @KarenGrepin: My ngram contribution: #globalhealth vs. #internationalhealth http://bit.ly/h5QQle (blog post)

  9. Robbo says:

    The rise of Global Health: global health vs. international health http://bit.ly/efmAz7

  10. Tim France says:

    Interesting post, many thanks for the lateral thoughts to start the year. It is surprising how much the use of terms such as these relies on the 'feeling' they evoke, rather than simply depending on our specific understanding. You also make me wonder if conventional diffusion theory (usually applied to products entering markets etc) could also be applied to new terminology. Do we have innovators, for example, introducing new terms, and early adopters who help to popularize them etc? I suspect diffusion does apply, and that we 'feel' a term is more appropriate because it is being used more, and hence is more familiar. So our interpretation follows trends in usage, and not the other way around.
    By the time the laggards are using "global public health" we will probably have a brand new term for it…. maybe even "international health".

  11. Simon Wright says:

    There was a great history of this change in terminology written a while ago, possibly here if I got the URL right from my iphone: http://globalhealtheducation.org/Pages/GlobalvsInt.aspx

    I think they are currently used interchangeably and most of the time discussions of "global health" have nothing to do with cross-border health threats. Gates and Global Health Council adopted the phrase in the US and this has spread.

    I am comfortable with either but always want to emphasise that I am concerned about health in developing countries for reasons of justice, not for the threat they pose to rich countries. Neither term makes that clear enough for me.

  12. The rise of "global health" vs. "international health". Karen Grepin played with ngrams.googlelabs.com – see results on http://bit.ly/hldXSJ

  13. The rise of "global health" vs. "international health". Karen Grepin played with http://ngrams.googlelabs.com – see http://bit.ly/hldXSJ

  14. […] Grepin found that the term ‘international health’ has become less popular in recent years, […]

  15. […] Grepin found that the term ‘international health’ has become less popular in recent years, […]

  16. Char says:

    RT @KarenGrepin: The rise of Global Health: global health vs. international health http://t.co/hzZRynUY

  17. 井上陽介 says:

    Graphication自体は面白いけど、論点は微妙。RT @KarenGrepin: The rise of Global Health: global health vs. international health http://t.co/65rxugvP

  18. […] Karen Grepin, from whom I replicated the N-Gram idea, offers a better definition: […]

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