Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Cyberchondria


Quote of the day:

I have been through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened. - Mark Twain

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Are you examining and possibly treating  a cyberchondriac

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Perhaps our review of symptoms should now include a new category under mental health. An important question may be 'how many hours a week do you spend searching the internet?'

As reported in the New York Times,

"If that headache plaguing you this morning led you first to a Web search and then to the conclusion that you must have a brain tumor, you may instead be suffering from cyberchondria

A recent research report completed by Microsoft (those folks who now bring us "Health Vault" reveals the nature of web searches in the are of health and medicine.  The article written by Ryen White and Eric Horvitz .

The authors posit,   "This information can assist people who are not healthcare professionals to better understand health and disease, and to provide them with feasible explanations for symptoms. However, the Web has the potential to increase the anxieties of people who have little or no medical training, especially when Web search is employed as a diagnostic procedure. . . . Our results show that Web search engines have the potential to escalate medical concerns. . . . We also demonstrate the persistence of post-session anxiety following escalations.....Our findings underscore the potential costs and challenges of cyberchondria."

The search cohort was highly biased because the participants all worked for Microsoft, a group most likely more knowledgable and with access to internet search engines on a daily basis.

And so my fellow bloggers, Val Jones, Edwin Leap, Emergiblog, Rural Doctoring, Suture for a Living, and the Happy Hospitalist, add this to your diagnostic acumen.

The question for us, is 'does this drive up the cost of healthcare?"

Wait one,  I am going to run a "google' on that....

 

 

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