Google is our go-to resource for absolutely everything, from locating the most entertaining casino games to determining the source of our current ailment when we’re feeling under the weather. And although the former is a good idea because it will bring you to websites such as Gambling Insider, the latter has been mainly discouraged up until recently, when things have started to change. Now, the results of a recent study suggest that patients who consult Dr. Google while they are experiencing symptoms of illness may actually assist medical professionals in making a quicker and more accurate diagnosis.
The findings of the study, which were published online on Monday by JAMA Network Open, came to the conclusion that individuals who had Googled their symptoms before to visiting a medical facility were given diagnoses that were marginally more accurate. This runs counter to the widespread belief that patients are more likely to get misleading information from the internet.
Anxiety About One’s Health Is Not Made Worse by Google
The research, which was carried out in the United States and is likely the result of the fact that so many of us turn to Google first whenever we feel under the weather, discovered that researching symptoms and possible causes online does not actually make a person’s assessment of their own health any less accurate, nor does it make any of their anxieties regarding their possible diagnosis any worse.
According to Dr. David Levine, an author and physician from the division of general internal medicine and primary care at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Massachusetts, their research suggests that it is likely acceptable to urge patients to “Google it.” In the continuation of his press statement, he stated, “This starts to form the evidence base that there’s not a lot of harm in that and, in fact, there may be some good.”
These findings are based on an investigation that included 5,000 individuals. Each participant was provided with a list of fictitious symptoms and instructed to come up with a possible diagnosis on the spot while simultaneously imagining that a member of their immediate circle was suffering from the conditions specified in the list. After that, they were instructed to look up the symptoms on Google and come up with an alternative diagnosis. The situations were diverse and covered a wide variety of relatively minor ailments in addition to more serious medical conditions like heart attacks, strokes, and infections.
In addition, the participants were given scenarios that encompassed all four levels of triage, which are as follows: emergency treatment, a visit to the doctor, medical attention within the week, and those who do not require any kind of medical guidance at all. The participants were required to assign their case what they believed to be an accurate level of triage and then reflect on how worried they had grown throughout the process.
There has not been an increase in cyberchondria.
The condition of having greater medical worry as a result of an occurrence is referred to as “cyberchondria.” The accuracy of the participants’ diagnoses did increase as a result of their online research; nevertheless, the participants as a whole did not enhance their ability to prioritize medical emergencies, which is probably related to a lack of adequate medical expertise. In addition to this, it was stated that after investigating symptoms online, they did not experience a substantial increase in their anxiety.
However, one of the most significant limitations of the study was the fact that participants were required to imagine that the occurrence was taking place to themselves or someone they knew personally. It is impossible to say whether or not their level of worry would have increased if they had to go through the medical procedure themselves.