Coping with patients' tendency to self-diagnose

23.01.23 05:41 PM Comment(s) By America

Picture: yanalya/Freepik

By América Torres

Self-diagnose is a reality that doctors deal with on a daily basis. According to research conducted by Irit Hochberg, MD, PhD, et al, on average, 15.49% of participants googled their symptoms before receiving a medical diagnosis; the most serious symptoms were 14% more likely to be consulted. Also, according to the same study, the less education about the condition, the greater the tendency to consult online.


Without a doubt, you face this every day. Patients who want to guide their treatment or who even come to the consultation only to have their self-diagnose confirmed. How to deal with it?


Here we will offer you strategies to turn the trend towards self-diagnosis into a bridge that strengthens your relationship with your patients.

Appreciate patient effort

It is very likely that after hearing the patient's self-diagnosis the first impulse is to discredit him. However, it is a good opportunity to create bonds of trust. Allow an exchange of information, listen to the information the patient obtained and explain if that applies to his case.


Some research shows that patients who actively participate in their treatment adhere better to it. The more educated they are about their condition, the more likely they are to follow the directions, and therefore, there will be a better outcome. Of course, it is important for the patient to review reliable sources. We´ll talk about that next.

Offer reliable sources of information

There's no way to prevent patients from Googling their symptoms, but it is possible to guide them to search in reliable websites. You can suggest pages like the Mayo Clinic´s or CDC´s.


Contrary to popular belief, guiding the patient to access reliable information will make him gain confidence in you. Because as he learns about his condition, he will realize that the treatment is appropriate, and he will confirm that you are a highly trained health professional.

Offer non-invasive ways to connect with you

When patients have not been educated in their condition, they tend to feel fearful. That leads them to search for more information, but since they can't have the doctor at their disposal every time they are assailed by doubt or fear, they google their symptoms. What if there was a way to come to the physician in those cases?


Many doctors already use personal marketing, so, if you haven't considered this trend, you might want to reevaluate the idea. Having a social media account or a blog written by you is a good way to be constantly available to the patient without the interaction being invasive. In addition, having a digital presence elevates your status as an authorized voice and that greatly benefits your practice.


If you already use digital marketing, show patients your page and social media. Not only will this strengthen trust, but it can also lead you to get new clients as patients tend to share the information their physician provides them.


Self-diagnose is potentially dangerous because there is a lot of misinformation on the Internet. A useful tactic to discourage this practice is listening to concerns, acknowledge them, and offer reliable sources of information. In this way, the patient will have what he is really looking for: the certainty that he is in good hands.



Share -