Kiwis Using The Internet For Medical Information

Published: Wed 30 Dec 2009 10:17 AM
More Kiwis Using The Internet For Medical Information
A growing number of New Zealanders are using the internet to find out about their medical condition but are wary about relying too much on information available online, according to a recent survey conducted on behalf of the Southern Cross Medical Society.
The TNS Conversa survey found that over 80% of Southern Cross members used the internet to find out information on medical matters. This is a 7% increase from the previous survey conducted two years ago.
Southern Cross Healthcare Group Chief Executive, Dr Ian McPherson, a former GP, says it’s concerning if people are using the internet to self-diagnose.
“While it’s great to have an interest in your health and want to find out more, it should never be used to replace visiting your GP. If their online research means people go to their GP with better prepared questions then that’s a good thing.”
He was heartened by the finding that only one in four trusted the web as a source of information (though the figure has increased 7% from two years ago).
“While there are a number of excellent, authoritative sites, there are also a lot providing dubious information out there. Many illnesses can have similar symptoms and the internet can’t replace a highly trained doctor when it comes to making a fully informed individual diagnosis.”
The survey also found that 67% of the respondents who trusted information from the web were far more likely to look there for information about medicines they had been prescribed. 37% would challenge a medical professional's advice on the basis of their own internet-based research (up from 22% two years ago).

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