Dr Google

Providing Health Advice In The Age Of Dr Google

When I was a teenager, if I had a health question, I’d go to mum. And if I didn’t want to ask mum about it, I wouldn’t ask anyone. It may not surprise you that we were regulars at A&E. 

These days, I can still ask mum, but my first port of call is “Dr Google”. 

And I’m not the only one. Whether we like it or not, more and more people are using search engines to self-diagnose. 

A quick search of your symptoms online is free, convenient, and for the most part: private. That’s important when the topic is embarrassing, sensitive or just plain uncomfortable to talk about with others. 

Google processes over 40,000 search queries every second on average, and according to Google’s health programme manager, one in 20 searches are health related, equating to 175 million searches each day. That’s a lot of people asking questions about their health. 

Results from a study released in July 2018 show that 80% of Internet users searched for a health-related topic online, up from 62% who said they went online to research health topics in 2001. 

Dr Google is here to stay.