When Dr Google and Dr Expert disagree
Empowered by medical internet searches, Ashya King’s parents took dramatic action. Is it a good idea to diagnose yourself? And what does it mean for the future of medicine?
The internet is a source of valuable medical information, but it has the potential to increase anxiety in people who have no medical training when employed as a diagnostic procedure,” says Mary Aiken, Director of Cyberpsychology at the RCSI Institute of Leadership.
Researchers use the term “cyberchondria” to describe the rush of concerns people experience after searching the internet in relation to often banal symptoms. Most of us have been there: you feel a mild pain in your head and next thing you’re reading an internet article about brain tumours. For most of us the result is unnecessary anxiety. In more extreme cases, Aiken says, an imagined physical condition can end up as a very real mental-health disorder.
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