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Wednesday 21st August 2019

Looking up illnesses can lead to better GP consultations

25th October 2012

Researchers say people who learn more about their symptoms on the internet have better consultations with their GP.


The study by University College London (UCL) said that patients who search the internet for details of illnesses and symptoms are listened to more attentively by their family doctor.

And those who take their own information into the surgery are often able to build a better relationship with their GP.

However, despite what patients discover online, most still trust their GP more.

UCL researchers asked 26 patients to discuss the negative and positive aspects of exploring their conditions online before seeing a doctor and most said the GP acknowledged their concerns though others found it did reveal deficiencies in the GP’s knowledge.

The findings are published in the British Journal of General Practice.

Editor, Professor Roger Jones, said: “While this study is based on a relatively small number of patients, it is likely to be indicative of what most GPs are seeing in their consultations every day.

“Patients of all ages use the internet and many now attend their GP appointment with information that they have researched themselves.”

He said that more GPs are setting aside their scepticism and using the information their patients bring with them as a way of “opening up the discussion and engaging patients.”

Professor Jones suggested that can lead to a more productive consultation.

However, another study from earlier this year found that a quarter of British women have misdiagnosed themselves on the internet and then bought the wrong product to try to cure their illness.


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