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Dr Google looks to reassure 'cyberchondriacs'

Starts providing more context for medical symptoms

Google symptom search 

Google is changing the way medical information is presented on its search engine to provide more context for medical symptoms.

The move could ease the worries of 'cyberchondriacs' who find themselves overwhelmed by the potential seriousness of certain symptoms when they go online to self-diagnose.

Huge numbers of people do of course turn to 'Dr Google' for healthcare information - around 1% of the 3.4 billion searches the firm processes every day are related to symptoms.

“Health content on the web can be difficult to navigate, and tends to lead people from mild symptoms to scary and unlikely conditions, which can cause unnecessary anxiety and stress,” Veronica Pinchin, product manager, search, wrote.

In response Google will answer symptom queries with a list of related conditions, and provide an overview of individual symptoms along with information on self-treatment options and what might require a doctor's visit.

The symptom information, which will first be displayed in the US in English on Google's mobile search app, was created in conjunction with Harvard Medical School and the Mayo Clinic.

“That said, symptom search (like all medical information on Google) is intended for informational purposes only, and you should always consult a doctor for medical advice,” Pinchin said.

She added: “Over time, we hope to cover more symptoms, and we also want to extend this to other languages and internationally.”

8th July 2016

From: Healthcare

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