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The University of Southampton
The Learn With US Transition Programme

Dr Google: expert patients, misinformation, 'cyberchondria'?

When you suspect that you are ill, or have a minor injury, what do you do? Do you immediately go to the doctor? Or do you do a little bit of investigation online first?

How has online health information-seeking changed lives?

The Web has transformed how we engage with health information. The original, optimistic idea for increased health information-seeking online was that individuals could become empowered to build their knowledge about healthy living and medical conditions, resulting in less pressure on stretched healthcare services. The reality, however, is that the Web has afforded huge amounts of information - both reliable and unreliable - to proliferate online.

In this lecture, Dr Becki Nash overviews some of the issues related to our reliance on ‘Dr Google’; new ways of checking symptoms and self-managing illness, the changes to doctor-patient relationships, what happens when health misinformation becomes accepted knowledge, and how the Web has impacted health anxieties.

This lecture, along with the accompanying materials that can be downloaded at the bottom of the page, seeks to provide a sociological introduction to information-seeking behaviours that have become increasingly entrenched in our everyday lives.

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