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Britons using internet to diagnose embarrassing ailments

15 January 2008

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A new study has revealed that patients are turning to the internet rather than their GPs to try to treat themselves.

The poll of more than 2,000 adults, which was commissioned by UKTV Style, found that issues such as embarrassing ailments, and a fear of physical examinations, are causing people to stay away from their doctors.

The study found 48% of respondents think that a condition, such as a sexually transmitted disease, would make them think twice about visiting the doctor, while the thought of a physical examination kept 44% of respondents away.

But Dr Laurence Buckman, chair of the British Medical Association’s (BMA) GPs committee, warned that there are dangers associated with seeking treatment and diagnosis over the internet.

He said: “The person on one end may not be a patient and the person on the other end may not be a doctor. That’s very dangerous.”

And he stressed that the majority of GPs go to great lengths to make sure consultations are not embarrassing for patients.

He said: “Most GPs are sensitive to the needs of patients who have got something awkward to say.”

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“No, it won’t increase health problems. It will lead to better informed patients who can make a choice about their treatment” – Lily Martin, Harpenden