Many Seek Health Info Online
BY JAMIE DAVIS
We all know that the internet can be a great tool for health information when used responsibly but we also know that parsing that information for the best information can be a bit of a mine field. This is why a recent survey of U.S. adults is a little bit alarming. According to a survey from the Pew Research Center in Washington, DC one third of all American adults have used the internet to either diagnose a health problem for themselves or a friend or relative.
The article from Medical News Today says that over 80 percent of Americans now use the internet and nearly 60 percent of them have used the internet to access health information in some way with 35 percent using it for diagnosis of a health problem. The people were also asked who they turned to for health information when they had a problem and in addition to the internet, they turned to more traditional resources with most seeking help from a medical professional, a relative or someone else with a similar condition. Of those who use the internet to self diagnose, nearly half (46 percent) used the information they found as encouragement to seek professional health care assistance and at least 40 percent of the time their self diagnosis from the internet was confirmed by the health care professional.
So what does this mean for us and our interactions with our patients. Well, for one, we can no longer rely on patients to just say no to internet health info. We need to be proactive with providing them access to credible online health information that we can stand behind. Most of them will look up some sort of health information and at least some of them will seek diagnosis there prior to coming in for a professional opinion.