Scientists warn anyone searching for their symptoms on Google and diagnose themselves
Every year Americans spend at least $ 20 million on unnecessary visits to doctors, a phenomenon that largely explains the enormous cost of medical care in the country, which is projected to jump to $ 5.5 trillion annually by 2024. which is not just for US residents is that behind this "need" lies (without seeking to do) Google leading millions of people to the doctor, after a once-in-a-lifetime search of companions omaton the Internet.
A 2013 Pew survey found that 72% of Americans search online for health information, with 35% looking for a diagnosis of symptoms, half of which include self-diagnosis, followed by an appointment. with the corresponding doctor indicated by their searches. In June 2016, Google announced that nearly 1% of all searches were related to medical symptoms.
The phenomenon, which is increasing in size to users - patients around the world, has particularly bothered doctors, who point out that it has little to do with questioning and downgrading their authority, but that it is much more worrying as online medical searches can alter the diagnostic process.And because what patients find online can imply rare or deadly situations for a patient, information in turn will trigger new "symptoms". For example, you search Google for "sore throat" and you may end up with descriptions of esophageal cancer. Inevitably the stress will hit red.
The greater the stress, the more visits to the doctor, where the often "imaginary patients" exhibit placebo symptoms, which require much more complicated procedures to cross-check and find their cause, and thus create even more stress. That is vicious circle.
Psychologists have been studying the case of self-esteem for years. When one reads or hears about an illness and its symptoms, one can easily imagine that it is suffering even though it is not. In recent years, a new word describing the phenomenon, the word "Cyberchondria", first appeared in a BBC report in 2001 and has been used by major medical journals such as Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry since 2001.
"The internet has the potential to increase the anxiety and phobia of people with little or no medical education, especially when the search engine is given the role of a diagnostic physician," said Ryen White and Eric Horvitz, researchers at Microsoft. , who used analysis data to determine the relationship between online medical searches and the increasing frequency of stress incidents.
Even today, Google itself admits that "medical content on the Internet can be difficult to navigate and tends to drive people from mild symptoms to frightening and unusual situations that can cause unnecessary stress and stress".