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Discovering Dr Google

Why we use the internet to find health information.

A handful of reasons have emerged through recent research into why Australians are using sources outside the traditional GP for medical information. While lack of time is a key factor, research shows difficulty getting an appointment, feeling embarrassed or being unable to get time off work are also contributing factors.

Conducted by the Medibank 24/7 Health Advice Line, the research indicates Facebook is increasingly being used to swap health advice across all ages. The most frequently discussed topics on Facebook include children’s health, cold and fevers.

In our latest be. healthy video, we asked people to identify where they get their health advice, why they would use the internet and where they would go online for health information. In addition to the research findings, saving money and accessing an instant answer were both mentioned as benefits of using an online source.

Here are four common trends away from visiting a GP that emerged from Medibank’s research:

1. ‘Taking a mumscription’ – 1 in 5 young Australians turn to a family member for advice before anything else
2. ‘Social diagnoser’ – 28% of us have seen health topics discussed on Facebook
3. ‘Symptom surfing’ – 76% of us have searched health symptoms online
4. ‘Silent suffering’ – 35% of us have been too embarrassed to speak to someone in person and 45% have kept a health concern to themselves

This week is Talk to an Expert week, an opportunity to connect with our health professionals about any health concerns we may have. Make an appointment to see your GP or members with hospital cover can phone the Medibank 24/7 Health Advice Line to speak to a registered nurse.

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