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November 10, 2006

Googling for a Diagnosis?

This new article from BMJ has some possibly surprising findings. Previous understanding of web search engines were that simply entering a list of symptoms was as likely to come back with the wrong diagnosis as anything else. Evidently the knowledgebase and results rankings have improved to the point where this is not necessarily the case for a searcher with a strong medical background.

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Hangwi Tang & Jennifer Hwee Kwoon Ng
Googling for a diagnosis--use of Google as a diagnostic aid: internet based study.
BMJ, doi:10.1136/bmj.39003.640567.AE (published 10 November 2006)
http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/abstract/bmj.39003.640567.AEv1

Objective: To determine how often searching with Google (the most popular search engine on the world wide web) leads doctors to the correct diagnosis.

Results: Google searches revealed the correct diagnosis in 15 (58%, 95% confidence interval 38% to 77%) cases.

Posted by pfa at November 10, 2006 10:58 AM

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