The Plain Truth

The Plain Truth
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Sunday, July 22, 2012

Beware Dr Google! People who use internet to diagnose illness 'can't interpret their own symptoms'

Many people may believe that the internet has made it easier for us to discover what is wrong when we are sick.

But new research suggests that using Google to diagnose illnesses could in fact be a very bad way of getting appropriate medical treatment.

Of course, a rigorously trained doctor is likely to give a much more accurate diagnosis than the average web user seeking answers from the internet.

But in addition, scientists have warned that individuals do particularly poorly when asked to work out their own chances of having any particular ailment.

Be careful! Scientists warn that self-diagnosis via the internet can be dangerous (picture posed by model)
Be careful! Scientists warn that self-diagnosis via the internet can be dangerous (picture posed by model)

This misdiagnosis takes two main forms - self-positivity, where we overestimate the risks of falling prey to an illness, and self-negativity, where the opposite is the case.
For example, according to NBC News, people may interpret symptoms which in someone else might seem like indigestion as a sign they are having a heart attack.
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