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Is It Good or Bad That People Started Diagnosing Themselves?
A formal diagnosis usually plays the most important role in proper treatment of an illness. On the other hand, the number of people reaching for the internet search engines to diagnose their symptoms is drastically increasing. Self-diagnosis via the internet has become a prominent phenomenon these days.
A report published in 2013 (“Dual Diagnosis”) states that researchers found that the average American consumer spends an hour each week looking for health information online. A large percent of these consumers are performing searches having in mind the goal to precisely detect the particular disease based on the symptoms they are experiencing. Unfortunately, often the most serious types of diseases are found at the beginning of the search results. The logarithms behind these search engines are complex and the belief that the results on the first page are indicative of the most likely disease is unreliable. This can cause unnecessary anxiety that can lead the individual to spend more money trying to self-treat.
The first wide-ranging study of online symptom checkers was conducted by Harvard Medical Systems and published in the journal BMJ (“Harvard Gazette”). This type of software asks users to list their symptoms and once a program has collected the information, the computer returns a list of potential illnesses and suggests the type of care patient should seek. Online symptom checkers accurately diagnosed symptoms about 34 percent of the time (“CBS News”). However, a study from Wolters Kluwer Health (“Dual Diagnosis”) found that 63 percent of people who sought out information online reported that they have never misdiagnosed themselves. Furthermore, a study from the Pew Research Center (“Dual Diagnosis”) found that only about 50 percent of people who look for information online talk to their doctors about their research.
Having in mind that the large percent of self-diagnosis is flawed, people believing they are diagnosed with a specific disease may attempt to cure that problem by taking the wrong measures and seeking unnecessary care. This can lead to delays in the treatment of curable conditions that might be missed. Still, the information should be taken for something that may be useful in patient education, but not a substitute for visiting the doctor in real life for checkups and tests.
“Issues and Dangers of Self-Diagnosis.” Dual Diagnosis. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Feb. 2017.
Leah Burrows, Harvard Paulson School Communications. “Self-diagnosis on Internet not always good practice.” Harvard Gazette. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Feb. 2017.
Seidman, Bianca. “The hazards of self-diagnosis on the Internet.” CBS News. CBS Interactive, 22 Sept. 2015. Web. 21 Feb. 2017.