Over a third using online self-diagnosis to decide whether they need to see a medical expert
A study of more than 1000 UK people by Lenstore has revealed that 59% are Googling their health symptoms before seeing a doctor - an estimated 20 million - with 30% admitting it's because they do not want to put additional pressure on the NHS.
More than a third (37%) said they use a search engine to help determine whether they need to see a doctor or not, and 16% admit they have seen a condition go unnoticed as a result of Googling their health symptom. Almost one in four people in the UK never or rarely follow up with a medical appointment, the study showed.
The survey also showed that Brits worry about their health 1.6 times a week, raising the question: are we a nation of hypochondriacs?
Roshni Patel, BSc (Hons) MCOptom, professional services manager at Lenstore said: "Whilst Googling a health symptom can be useful in putting people's minds at ease, it is important for individuals to consult a doctor if they are worried about their health, if their symptoms persist, or if they are unsure of what is wrong. Online health sites should be used as a guide for patients, however a medical professional will be the one to diagnose you properly. When looking online, it is immensely important for individuals to use credible sites such as the NHS and WebMD, to ensure they are receiving the most up to date and accurate information. Self-diagnosing can become a slippery slope and cause a great deal of anxiety due to an incorrect diagnosis."
The study revealed that London is the city self-diagnosis most, with 23% admitting to always using the internet to self-diagnose, followed by Plymouth (21%) and Edinburgh (19%).
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