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‘Googling’ aids GP consultations

25 October 2012

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Googling symptoms and health conditions “aid” a general practice consultation.

Research, published in the British Journal of General Practice, found most patients valued and trusted a health professional’s opinion over the internet information they have gathered.

“Googling” was viewed as a sign of patients taking their symptoms and own health seriously.

Researchers from University College London also noted some of the 26 patients studied felt their relationship with their GP had been “strengthened” as a result of “googling” their symptoms/condition.

However, others felt health professionals “disregarded” the internet information or were “unwilling to admit their lack of knowledge”.

“GPs should feel encouraged by the findings, knowing that patients value their clinical expertise and that their existing communication skills of listening to patients and engaging with their agenda can help them respond appropriately to patients,” said Parvathy Bowesm, who led the research. 

Antony Chuter, chair of the Patient Partnership Group at the Royal College of GPs, hoped the research will help “reassure” patients their views are taken seriously.