Combating Cyberchondria

Pages: 5 (1516 words) Published: February 26, 2014


The dangers of medical websites and the addiction surrounding them is explored in this paper. Medical websites online are starting to take over the roles of doctors by providing ample information to the reader regarding their health that the patient does not feel the need to visit their professional doctor. This issue brings about a waste of time energy and resources due to the false self diagnosis most people receive from these sites. Dr.Google may be a very convenient and seemingly reliable source until the patient is diagnosing themselves with cancer when in fact they have a seasonal cold. By evaluating and considering the outcomes of Cyberchondria,this paper discusses that the most direct way to combat this disease is by reassuring to the patient that these sites are not a diagnosis by any means and that visiting their doctor is the most reliable method of gaining health information.

Ten years ago, when a person would get a sore throat or have a slight fever, their first thought was to visit their doctor and be diagnosed with the average cold or a seasonal flu. In this day and age, with the advance of technology and the dependency on search engines in society, more people have been turning to Dr. Google for advice when feeling under the weather. These websites give rise to a disease called “Cyberchondria” which is the false belief that one is suffering from a disease that was learned about on the Internet or on a specific website (Sennebogen, 2007). This phobia can be harmful to the user and can cause them to become addicted to these types of websites. This creates problems in society because it causes the patient-doctor relationship to deteriorate. Medical websites such as Web MD and Your Diagnostic are great for explaining various symptoms and help give users an idea of their possible diagnosis. However if mishandled, they can be destructive to both the individual using it and society at large. By 2015, these websites must be modified and monitored by medical professionals in order to ensure patients are aware that the explanations the websites give them are not diagnoses and that they should visit their doctor for a more accurate diagnosis.

According to a national survey conducted by the Pew Internet & American Life Project,62 percent of internet users have gone online in search of health information.That means "more people go online for medical advice on any given day than actually visit health professionals, according to figures provided by the American Medical Association."(American Medical Association, 2003) This is causing the patient to lose trust in the physician because the information they are finding online is more reliable to them. After searching on websites like Web MD the user becomes very confident in what they have researched and will even argue with their doctor if they disagree with the results of their “Dr. Google diagnosis”. In addition, the economy affects people who are anxious about illnesses. With the increasingly worsening world economy, fewer people are able to afford health insurance; therefore, less people are inclined to visit their doctor’s office because they believe self-treatment is more affordable than the treatment of a doctor.

Another issue of concern regarding these medical websites is the quality of information posted in them. Due to the immense amount of information readily available on the internet it would be very difficult for medical professionals to look through it all and monitor it in order to make sure it is all accurate. We must all work to ensure that the information provided online is of high quality so that individuals searching for more information can attain it.According to Ben Davidson of the Massachusetts Academy of Math and Science, the information obtained from health related searches can affect peoples’ decisions about when to ask a physician for assistance with diagnosis or therapy, how to treat a...

References: Fox, S. (2006). Online Health search 2006. Pew internet & American Life Project. Retrieved September 23, 2012, from
Moyer, C. (2012). Cyberchondria: the one diagnosis patients miss.Retrieved September 24, 2012, from
Sennebogen, E. (n.d.). Discovery Health "Microsoft Examines the Causes of Cyberchondria". Discovery Fit and Health. Retrieved September 23, 2012, from
Tat (2012, September 20). Can someone diagnose my vision problem? - Yahoo! Answers.Yahoo! Answers - Home. Retrieved September 22, 2012,
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Aiken, M., Kirwan, G., & O 'Boyle, C. (2012). The age of cyberchondria. Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland Student Medical Journal, 5(71). Retrieved from http://
Coluccio, K., Turrow , J., Sawicki, N., & Jacobsohn, L. (2003). Discussions of Health Websites in Medical and Popular Media. ASC Departmental Papers Journal, 1(17), 8-10. Retrieved from
Davidson, B. (2009, January 12). Cyberchondria. The Scientia Review. Retrieved September 23, 2012, from
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