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Cyberchondria

  • By: Judy Z. Segal
  • In: Encyclopedia of Health Communication
  • Edited by: Teresa L. Thompson
  • Subject:Public Health Education & Health Promotion, Health Psychology, Health Communication

While health communicators as early as the 1990s noted the increasing use and misuse of health-information Web sites, one of the first public uses of the term cyberchondria was in a BBC News story in 2001, in which the term was glossed as “Internet print-out syndrome.” That is, the condition was pathologized. The BBC story reported that physicians across the United Kingdom and elsewhere were seeing patients who had used the Internet to investigate possible illnesses, had typically misdiagnosed their symptoms, and had appeared in their physicians' offices with computer print-outs and a great deal of conviction. Even in 2001, however, physician Trefor Roscoe, quoted by the BBC, said that doctors could not ignore the Internet-informed (or misinformed) patient: the Internet was a new ...

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