Funding for this research was provided by:
Received: 2 March 2020
Accepted: 8 December 2020
First Online: 4 January 2021
Ethics approval and consent to participate
: A custom web crawler written in the Python programming language was used to crawl and collect public dialogues from medical consultation websites. Data masking is performed prior to disclosure on these websites. All websites had obtained a certificate of internet security and are being supervised by the government. Physician users need to submit their practicing certificates when registering on the websites and real name authentication is required. E-consent is required for general registration from patients and physician users and included information on data being used for research purpose, with an opt-out method. Considering the data is publicly available and the study is generated by observation of public behavior and interest, ethics approval for the study is deemed unnecessary according to International Ethical Guidelines for Health-related Research Involving Humans [CitationRef removed] which is published by the Council for International Organizations of Medical Sciences (CIOMS) in 2016.
: Not applicable.
: Hui Zhang, Fanwen Meng, Xingyu Li, Yali Ning, Meng Cai are salaried employees of UCB Pharma. The authors declare that they have no competing interests.