The Interest in Betting, Smoking, Alcohol, and Drugs in Malawi: Changing Trends between 2012-2022

Gülcan Demir1, Chiwoza Bandawe2

  1. Sinop University, Vocational School of Health Services, Department of Medical Services and Techniques, Turkey
  2. Kamuzu University of Health Sciences, Department of Mental Health, Malawi
    *Corresponding Author: Gülcan DEMİR; E-mail:



In recent years, the online gambling market has rapidly developed, and betting has become one of the most popular forms of gambling. The aim of this study was to analyse the interest of the Malawian population in terms related to betting, sports betting, alcohol, cigarettes, and some psychoactive drugs through the relative search volumes of Google Trends.


Internet search query data related to betting, sports betting, alcohol, cigarettes, and psychoactive drugs were obtained monthly from Google Trends for the period 2010-2022. Comparisons of interest levels in these topics were conducted in Malawi, and correlation coefficients were calculated.


In Malawi, relative search volumes for betting and sports betting terms were the highest (average RSVs: 66% and 30%). It was found that from 2019 onwards, the interest in betting and sports-related search topics and keywords increased significantly (p < 0.001). Strong positive correlations were found between betting-related keywords and alcohol and gross domestic product (r = 0.831 and r = 0.901, p < 0.001). A positive correlation was found between betting and psychoactive drug-related terms (minimum r = 0.417, p < 0.01).


This study concludes that the interest of the Malawian population in betting has increased in recent years, while interest in psychoactive drugs and alcohol remains high. Gross domestic product is highly correlated with society’s interest in betting. It was additionally found that Google Trends can be used as a tool to predict and monitor future risky behaviours, such as gambling disorder.

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