Searches for general health research included:
- 29% Food Safety / Recalls
- 24% Drug Safety / Recalls
- 19% Pregnancy / Childbirth
Searches for symptom-specific health research included:
- 66% Specific Disease / Issue
- 56% Medical Treatment / Procedures
- 44% Doctors / Health Professionals
This accessibility of health information might also come at a cost, though, as reliable information isn't always easy to find. Rumors, misinformation, and potentially dangerous advice abounds in the online environment. This can lead to patients suffering from cyberchondria, a fear that manifests through online searches and believing their symptoms translate into a serious disease.
What can patients do, aside from ignoring all online medical information and simply going to their doctor? The most accurate information can often be found on government or news websites. Reliance on the findings there will be a good start for patients seeking to become better informed. And patients should be wary of sites that are out-dated as well. If the research is more than five years old, it's likely not as reliable as current findings, so patients should avoid basing their medical decisions solely on them. And most importantly, patients should go see their doctor for all their medical concerns. Health information online is meant to be an extension of becoming educated about personal health, not a final diagnosis.