Mass. Study Shows "Dr. Google" Isn't Creating That Much Medical Anxiety


BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — A new study suggests that trying to self-diagnose yourself by looking up medical symptoms isn't creating as much anxiety as previously thought.

We all know the joke, that you go online and search "stubbed toe" and then you find out, you must have the bubonic plague.

Incorrectly diagnosing yourself using "Dr. Google" was thought to be anxiety inducing for many people. However, Dr. David Levine with Brigham and Women's Hospital, along with Harvard Medical School, said their study shows it may be the opposite.

"People didn't get more anxious, which means we didn't see what we like to call cyberchondria or the internet making us freak out and ending up in the emergency department," said Levine.

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Five-thousand people participated in the study and their diagnostic ability improved by 5 percent after using the internet.

"It's not a huge increase, but people became better at diagnosis after they used the internet," said Levine.

Levine added older web surfers appear to do better at self-diagnosing than younger generations. "It turns out adults who are over the age of 40, especially women, appeared to be much better at self-diagnose," said Levine.

He hopes the study will help create ways to further support the demographics that don't do so well. 

WBZ NewsRadio's James Rojas (@JamesRojasWBZ) Reports

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(Photo: Getty Images)


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