Searching for health on the web often leads to the most dire diagnoses

Microsoft released a study looking at the patterns of those who perform health-related searches on popular search engines.

To no one’s surprise, “self-diagnosis by search engine frequently leads Web searchers to conclude the worst about what ails them.”

People only looked at the first few results for their keyword symptom searches, which often contained zebras like “ALS” or “brain tumor,” meaning they often started their research from a dire, more anxious, perspective.

I never discourage patients from researching their own conditions. However, the interpretation of the data is equally important, which is why discussing what you find on the Web with a physician is imperative.

topics: google, search engine

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