Can social media help diagnose illness?

June 16th, 2011 by Hannah Newbould

With social media used for so many different things, should it really be used  by people to self-diagnose  health problems because they are too scared or embarrassed to visit a GP?

We are all guilty of visiting Google and typing in the symptoms and praying we don’t see something more serious than a common cold. However, more and more people are going online to diagnose their symptoms and even sometimes taking it one step further by ordering drugs using an online pharmacy. However, is this really a safe method of finding a quick fix to our problems health problems?

GPs are now campaigning that people, specifically males, should be targeted through social networking and phone applications They believe that giving any males the chance to use a new app will encourage them to search for their symptoms and then to visit their GP. The beauty of this is the anonymity but is it really safe and accurate?

Over 42% of men die before the age of 75 compared to 26% of women, however, men visit their GP 20% less frequently. Surely encouraging men to visit the doctor and giving them access to booking appointments online and via phone apps is only a positive approach. Access to information about health problems should be made readily available to men, as long as the information is accurate and it does then go on to encourage guys to make that dreaded appointment.

The Department of Health says that a new health campaign aimed at young people using Facebook and smart phone apps will start this year, though these are not specifically targeted at men.

One Response to “Can social media help diagnose illness?”

  1. Alec Difrawi Says:

    You raise a good point, but I think its a slippery slope. Once you start exposing people to more and more information of how they could be sick, then paranoia sets in. Granted its good for business, but the ethics of it might be a little questionable. That’s just my opinion though. Thoughts?

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