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Educating Patients on the Dangers of Googling Their Own Symptoms

It’s estimated that about 80% of Americans search for medical information online. For the most part, having nearly unlimited information at your fingertips should be considered a good thing, but when it comes to diagnosing medical symptoms, this isn’t the case for the general public. In fact, online self-diagnosis can be frightening, and even dangerous. As Krissy Brady from sheknows described it, cyberchondria could be a major epidemic.

To a non-medical professional doing their own online research, the symptoms of a simple cold, or viral infection, can easily be confused for some strain of a rare deadly disease, or the early warning signs of a terminal ailment. Luckily, some people out there are taking the Googling of medical information very seriously. The Flemish government recently hired DDB Brussels to come up with a public service campaign to help address this issue.

Don’t google It from DDB Brussels on Vimeo.

The campaign targeted the top 100 medical symptoms that people Google. A message was then placed above the actual Google results that read: “Don’t Google it, check a reliable source,” with links to Belgium’s Health and Science website.

The promotional videos that the agency created to promote the spots are humorous, and feature everyday people turning into complete hypochondriacs as they query a range of symptoms online, from a bloody nose, to hair loss and a gangrenous fingernail. It’s certainly worth checking out.

Don’t google it from Gezondheid en Wetenschap on Vimeo.

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