Online Self-Diagnosis Worrying Physicians
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Online Self-Diagnosis Worrying Physicians

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Physicians are getting concerned about people increasingly looking to the Internet for their first diagnosis.

Physicians are getting concerned about people increasingly looking to the Internet for their first diagnosis.

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  • 1. Outsourced Strategies International 1-800-670-2809 Online Self-Diagnosis Worrying Physicians Google seems to be the first point of medical consultation for many people. Rather than visit their family practice physician when they experience some strange sensation or symptom, they tend to first Google it and self-diagnose their condition. Tendency to Google Symptoms on the Rise A recent report based on an analysis of Google UK showed that since 2008, the number of people who turn to Google rather than consult a doctor to search for terms related to their health, has surged. The trend has been noticed in the U.S. too, with a new survey from The Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project showing that in 2013, about 35% of Americans went online to diagnose themselves or others. Up to 41% of the respondents did get their Internet diagnoses confirmed by a medical professional, but 18% actually got the opposite confirmed which goes to show that all Internet diagnoses are not valid. One in three of those surveyed never found it necessary to follow up with a doctor what they found out about their symptoms, which implies that they trusted their self-diagnosis to the extent they didn't consider it worthwhile to get it double checked. This does have significant implications for the mental
  • 2. Outsourced Strategies International 1-800-670-2809 health of patients in terms of their perspective and expectations for treatment and recovery. The practice is markedly high in India as well. In a survey conducted in 27 Indian cities which involved 650 doctors, 44% of the doctors claimed that when patients visit them, they are stuffed to the brim with information while 90% said that patients imagine or expect the worst after their Google experience. Crucially, 50% of doctors believed that patients’ online health investigations made it more difficult for them to interact with patients. The survey also noted that health issues ranked second in topics most popularly searched online. Beware of Wrong Information While a lot of information found on reliable medical websites is certainly useful, there is also a lot of misleading and irrelevant information out there, which could scare searchers. People could end up getting mistaken to the point that that they falsely think they have cancer, while their actual medical condition could hardly be that serious. The opposite is also true, where people having a serious ailment think that it really isn’t that serious thanks to what they read on some site. Symptoms could be similar for multiple disorders. People going through a slow heart attack could experience symptoms similar to people experiencing indigestion, acidity or similar digestive issues. In this case, there is the
  • 3. Outsourced Strategies International 1-800-670-2809 chance for an online searcher to either underestimate or overestimate the actual condition. Cross Check Your Findings People who still want to check their symptoms online would do well to follow a safe pattern for searching. They have to be careful not to fall prey to quackery. There are reliable medical websites such as Mayo Clinic and the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) which are known to have the right information People often browse medical information online when they just want to kill time. Educating yourself about your condition is a good thing. But building up health anxiety or hypochondria is not. While physicians must try to assuage such patients, the latter must double check the information they’ve discovered and confirm it with their physician.