Wednesday, November 11, 2009
In a column in the Washington Post (11/10), Carolyn Butler writes on "cyberchondria, loosely defined as the baseless fueling of fears and anxiety about common health symptoms due to Internet research, or, as I like to think of it, Googling oneself into a state of absolute, clinical hysteria over every last pain, itch and strange freckle on your body. Apparently, I'm not alone." Researchers at Microsoft found recently that "about two percent of all the Windows Live searches were health-related." Of those "users who engaged in at least one such query during the study, roughly one-third 'escalated' their subsequent web surfing to focus on far more serious...conditions." Problems can "arise when people turn to a broad web search to diagnose their ills," and Butler notes that "the Medical Library Association has some great tips for evaluating health research online."