Half of women are diagnosing themselves online, says Ofcom

More than half of women are diagnosing themselves online, according to report, despite fears of bogus advice.


October 15, 2009

By Urmee Khan, Digital and Media Correspondent

Increasing numbers of people (48 per cent) say that they have used the internet to find out more about an illness according to a report by Ofcom, the media regulator.

The research found women are more likely to do so, with 53 per cent admitted to looking online for medical advice, in a trend has become known was ‘Dr Google’.

Ofcom’s UK Adults’ Media Literacy interim report found that use of NHS Direct/NHS 24 websites had increased from 70 per cent in 2007 to 84 per cent in 2009.

The report just says the increase in use of NHS websites could be related to the change in the profile of internet users since 2007.

Online diagnosis can now be done for swine flu as well, under the Government’s National Pandemic Flu Service

Medical professionals have warned that online self-diagnosis can cause the worried well to fear the worst and creates “cybercondriacs”.

Last month, a report published in the Annals of The Royal College of Surgeons of England, found a quarter of patients who researched common surgery on the internet were left “worried and confused” by the information they received.

Sue Woodward, chair elect of the Patient Liaison Group of the Royal College of Surgeons of England said: “Too often information provided online is patchy, unregulated and inconsistent”.

The Ofcom report also found that one in three adults (29 per cent) used the internet to watch downloaded television programmes or films, with 25 to 34-year-olds most likely to do this.

British web users have now grown used to catching up on shows at the click of a mouse on services such as ITV player and the BBC iPlayer.

Adults using social networking sites has also nearly doubled in two years – from 22 per cent to 38 per cent since 2007.



Author: Leslie Carol Botha

Author, publisher, radio talk show host and internationally recognized expert on women's hormone cycles. Social/political activist on Gardasil the HPV vaccine for adolescent girls. Co-author of "Understanding Your Mood, Mind and Hormone Cycle." Honorary advisory board member for the Foundation for the Study of Cycles and member of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research.