Conquering Cyberchondria in 2016

  • Category: News
  • Published: 19 January 2016

We’ve all been there: You notice a symptom—like a pain in your foot or a cough that won’t go away—and your first move is a Google search to diagnose yourself. Suddenly you’ve fallen down a virtual rabbit hole and panic over your “condition” sets in.

Microsoft Research has dubbed this phenomenon cyberchondria or “the unfounded escalation of concerns about common symptomology, based on the review of search results and literature on the web.” So is this wealth of medical information too much of a good thing?

Lippe Taylor and HealthyWomen decided to investigate DIY Health in the latest version of their “Women’s Health Behavior Index” and presented the results recently during a panel discussion moderated by Lippe Taylor Managing Director and Chief Strategy Officer, Lori Rubinson at the Pew Center for Research in Washington, D.C. with experts Sarah Haflett, Senior Manager of the Health Research Institute at Price Waterhouse Coopers; Dr. Leslie M. Rickey, Fellowship Director, Female Pelvic Medicine & Reconstructive Surgery, Yale School of Medicine; and Dr. Darria Long Gillespie, international TV expert and radio host, Emory ER physician, and Sharecare executive.

Our study showed that cyberchondria is real and that 2016 offers enormous opportunities in the realm of DIY Health.

72% of women identify themselves as Health DIY-ers with 90% saying they search for information on a condition or illness before seeing a health care professional. And while 86% self-diagnose via the Internet, they don’t completely trust themselves. 85% second-guess their treatment decisions some or most of the time. 

“What really stands out is that with self-diagnosis and self-medication comes self-doubt,” says Lori. “This research shows that while women do want to take control, there is still a strong need for health care providers and companies to empower women with the information they need to make strong and confident choices for themselves and their families.” As experts, we can offer that to them via real-time consultations with physicians, innovative apps, and engaging and informed content distributed via the appropriate channels. Where there is uncertainty, we can provide information that will help consumers feel safe in their decision-making process.

More highlights from the Lippe Taylor/HealthyWomen Women’s Health Behavior Index can be found in the infographic below.