Ill people no longer rely on doctors, accept online health advice – German study

Ill people are no longer prepared to rely on what the doctor tells them, while almost half of them going online to glean often unverified health advice from the internet, a German study says.

Health online

According to the survey published on Friday by the Bertelsmann Foundation and based in part on in-depth interviews, some 46 per cent of people who sought information on health issues over the past 12 months used the internet.

The survey found that 58 per cent of these patients went online for information before going to their doctor; while as many as 62 per cent went onto the internet even after the doctor’s appointment.

Report says the reasons vary since patients check the advice they receive from the doctor and also look for alternative methods of treatment.

They seek to exchange ideas with others and look for emotional support, as the evaluation of 36 in-depth interviews revealed.

Some 52 per cent are “always” or “usually” satisfied with the results found, although this information is not thoroughly scrutinised.

Marion Grote-Westrick of the Bertelsmann Foundation said the in-depth interviews showed that online advice was often trusted too easily.

“Patients barely checked to see whether the information they found was scientifically based,’’ she said.

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