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Cyberchondria spreading – at least on local NBC stations

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Gary Schwitzer is the founder & publisher of HealthNewsReview.org.  Back in the 1970s he worked in local TV health news in Milwaukee and Dallas before joining CNN.  Then he saw the light and left TV news altogether.

KARE screenshot.jpgSo I’m watching the 6 pm local news last night and see a piece on KARE-11, my local NBC affiliate, about ” a new buzzword called ‘cyberchonrdria’ ” – used to describe people who “google their symptoms online and then worry over the multitude of results and possible diagnosis..”

But it’s clear from what they posted online that this was not a piece of local enterprise journalism by your local Minneapolis TV station.

It apparently came from a Charlotte, North Carolina station. Google shows that several NBC stations across the country apparently picked up the story from an NBC feed and ran it as if it were their own.

cyberchondria screen shot.jpg

There really nothing new about the “cyberchondria” buzzword.

I found a Harris Poll from May, 2002 entitled “Cyberchondriacs Update.” Wikipedia has references dating back to 2001 – 10 years ago.

News?

KARE in Minneapolis dropped in a local doctor’s interview and re-packaged what another station had done and made it look like their own enterprise story. We know this happens all the time, but most in the general viewing audience don’t.

The vast wasteland of local TV health news.

 

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Comments

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Susannah Fox

March 16, 2011 at 1:23 pm

I dislike the word cyberchondria and I dislike the stories it spawns because they sensationalize what is actually happening (and which, I’ll admit, is the focus of my research so I take it personally).
In 2008 I wrote about a cyberchondria study that Microsoft researchers fielded among Microsoft employees:
http://e-patients.net/archives/2008/12/cyberchondria-old-wine-in-new-bottles.html
As you can see (if you read the above post) I liked the study. What worried me was that press coverage of it skipped over the fact that they used a skewed sample that is not representative of the U.S. population.
It continues to worry me when sensational headlines get passed around, distracting people from what I hope is the goal of good research: providing data that people can use to make better decisions.
Let’s fact-check what we blog, tweet, and re-tweet. Otherwise it’s just noise.

Susan

March 18, 2011 at 3:18 pm

So maybe this isn’t “news” but perhaps it’s an indicative of a trend in which more people are arriving at the doctor’s office with questions. This gets you thinking: http://whatstherealcost.org/video.php?post=five-questions

Arthur Ellin

August 6, 2011 at 10:06 am

In The Book of Murray by David M. Bader (Harmony Books, 2010), The Prophet Murray states, “Thou shalt not Google thy symptoms and then phone thy internist at 2AM claiming to have a terminal illness.”

Ben

December 12, 2011 at 9:32 am

Cyberchondriasis: Fact or fiction? A preliminary examination of the relationship between health anxiety and searching for health information on the Internet:

http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.janxdis.2011.11.005