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The sense and nonsense of Dr Google

People often consult “Dr Google” when experiencing pain or suspecting an illness. Although diagnoses are easy to find on the internet, they are often also misleading. The following tips will help you to navigate through the diagnosis jungle on Google.

Today, getting information about health issues over the internet is not only something that young people do, it has become a phenomenon shared by all generations. Read more about what to consider when searching on Google:

As the question, so the answer
Search engines are only as good as their users. Failing to formulate a question correctly will invariably lead to the wrong answer.

Furthermore, for many symptoms it is hard to locate the pain precisely, let alone describe it: Where exactly does my back hurt? Am I feeling a sharp or a dull pain? What do I need to look for? If you’re having trouble describing your symptoms, it's unlikely that Google will be of much help.

Publication date
Always check the publication date of the text or website to ensure that the information is current.

Who wrote what
Assuming that your search was successful and you found what you were looking for, you will then need to evaluate the information. We therefore recommend that you compare several websites that cover the same topic by paying attention to who posted the material. Is it a journalistic text by an independent media company, is it from a company that wants to sell its products, or is the source unknown? In general, you can assume that the websites of the authorities, of established newspapers and journals, and of healthcare organisations will be more trustworthy.

Small tip: You can look up medical terms in Wikipedia to get a general idea of what they mean. If you want to learn more about the topic, you can always read up about it in a specialised source later. The website of the Cochrane Library provides specialised literature free of charge.

Use Dr Google with caution
Be careful about how you use the information you obtain online. When researching topics on the internet you need to be aware that your search result may not be the truth, that your current knowledge may not allow you to understand the information correctly, or that the text is actually an advertisement in a hidden form.

Ask sante24 if you have questions
Persons insured with SWICA can contact the sante24 health advice helpline at any time for information in addition to what they found on the internet. The doctors and medical staff of sante24 are there to offer you free expert advice in four languages, around the clock, 365 days a year. Tel. +41 (0)44 404 86 86

27.12.2017

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