Consumer Healthcare Products Australia conducted a study of more than 2000 people regarding their usage of the internet for health concerns.
The findings showed that two thirds of participants would google their symptoms and read online about various conditions prior to visitng a health professional.
The findings prompted concerns from experts about patients falling for misinformation or misleading, inaccurate advice online.
CHP Australia chief executive Deon Schoombie reported that given Australia was experiencing another Covid wave, it had never been more important to ensure people knew where to find and how to interpret health information online.
“What was very concerning for us was finding that a large number of people don’t fully understand the way to interpret the health information they find online,” he said.
“And there’s so much online, everything from completely dodgy to absolutely scientific and everything in between. Being on a computer and looking at that, how do you know what is rubbish and what is correct?”
Mitchell Institute professor of health policy Rosemary Calder said the report demonstrated “the new world we are coming into … We turn online for everything from food shopping to personal effects … and health shopping.
However, the study showed that the patients were reading information online prior to visiting their GP, not instead of, so is Googling your symptoms harmful?
In the survey, just one in five rated their health literacy as high whereas one in three believed their health literacy was low.
A concern is that people may trust information online that causes patients to disregard symptoms and not visit their GP, however there is no research currently that shows