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Do we prefer going online for our health advice?

Posted in General Health 22 Mar, 2013

Our patience with our local doctors appears to be waning. It seems that the days waiting for weeks on end to find your next available appointment, or patiently queuing for hours to see your local GP may be numbered. Us Brits are taking matters into our own hands, as new research shows that Britons are more than twice as likely to seek health advice online, as opposed to a consultation with their doctor.

Changing times

We know how powerful a tool the online and interactive world is. So perhaps it is not surprising that many of us are using the Internet to not only do our food shopping, clothes shopping or pay our bills, but also use it as a self-educational tool, to learn or get advice, all from the comfort of our homes. With an increasing public backlash regarding the length of time it takes to get an appointment to see your GP, and what many consider to be excessive waiting times, perhaps it is not surprising that there has been a rise in people taking the responsibility for their health and health care into their own hands.

Lifestyle changes

According to the study, the reasons why so many of us are using the Internet for health advice as opposed to traditional face-to-face communication with our local GP, derives from our need to implement lifestyle changes. A need to improve our health and wellbeing, appearance and medical advice should we become ill, all contribute to the rise in using online health services. Figures showed that 56% of 25-34 year olds consult the Internet for health advice, with just 16% preferring to go to their GP. With conditions like erectile dysfunction, impotence, and STI infections, the Internet has proven to be an alternative and discreet vehicle, allowing you to seek advice for conditions that you may not feel confident talking to your GP about.

Checking your advice is correct

Although the Internet has proved to beneficial in allowing us to get advice and information on lifestyle changes, it is essential that such advice is accurate. Nutritionist Azmina Govindji, a member of the British Dietetic Association, puts forth her concerns, citing the dangers of getting inaccurate information from the online world. Similarly, with fraud and fake online websites ever emerging, it is vital that you make sure that the advice that you use is correct, safe and more importantly from a registered online health site. Here are a few tips to help you identify a licensed health clinic:

    These include:

  • The site uses registered doctors / medical professionals
  • The site uses medical and licensed medication
  • The site is registered and has the symbol to show it is a licensed such as General Pharmaceutical Council and National Pharmacy Association mark.

All of these tips should be followed to ensure that the information you read and evidently may practice as a result is not only credible but also truthful and accurate. Not only should you use the above points as a guide to ensure that the online health service you are using is authentic, but if you do decide to go beyond just advice and decide to purchase medication, you only able to do so after completing a consultation to assess your suitability to your choice of medication.

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