Over half of Spanish use the web for medical “advice”

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THE INTERNET: Should we be using it to research health issues?

IT IS estimated that 60 per cent of Spanish people use medical websites to research their health queries, recent research has found. Their web searches include illnesses, symptoms and even remedies, while around 54 per cent use it for research into living a healthy lifestyle. 

The Spanish medical community’s reaction to what is an upward trend across the developed world is mixed. Some doctors actively direct their patients towards specific sites that they believe can help them. Conversely, these can often be patients with more serious illness such as cancer.  

They believe there are strong benefits from the ‘community’ side of being online with fellow sufferers. Although they are strangers they are often the only people who will have actually been through the same process. 

Other doctors dislike the trend, feeling that the impersonality of the web can never replace a medical professional. This group also worries about people being too quick to jump to the wrong conclusions without access to proper medical advice, and could make themselves unduly worried and stressed. 

Either way, almost 90 per cent of Spanish surveyed said they would still turn to their GP first and the internet was more for extra information prior to or after a GP visit.

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