Stats reveal more than 100 million health searches were made through Google as GP waiting times continue to increase
With figures suggesting one in four Brits are currently on a waiting list for a GP appointment*, patients consulted ‘Dr Google’ more than 100 million times about issues including anxiety, schizophrenia and sexually transmitted infections in just 12 months, according to new research.
The data compiled by UK health and wellbeing provider, Benenden Health, analysed more than 8,000 unique health-related phrases and questions around the most common ailments and diseases. The findings revealed that Brits made more than 100 million health-related searches over the course of a year.
Among the ailments and diseases mentioned, anxiety, schizophrenia and chronic depression/bipolar all came in the top 10 most Googled health concerns for the UK population, making up one-quarter of all health searches. Sexual health-related searches were the second most commonly searched, with chlamydia, gonorrhoea and thrush also being placed.
This research comes amid growing concern that people in the UK are turning to Dr Google for self-diagnosis, rather than speaking to a pharmacist or GP. This is supported by a rise in cases of cyberchondria – a state of medical anxiety caused by online symptoms checks which have been predicted to cost the NHS in the region of £420 million every year*.
Cheryl Lythgoe, Matron at Benenden Health, comments: “It is of little surprise to see mental and sexual health questions leading the way as common searches for health concerns. If people wish to use Google for health information or reassurance, we would highly recommend the use of NHS validated websites and to consult directly with a health professional to reach a diagnosis”
The report also showed self-diagnosis was at a peak in London, the Midlands and North West of England, with London alone representing 23% of all search enquiries. Reviewing proportionally, it shows London, Yorkshire and Northern Ireland had the highest number of searches relative to their populations for all health queries included in the study.
Benenden Health has more than 800,000 members across the UK and provides a range of services, including a GP 24/7 and private prescription service and Mental Health helpline. For more information on what Benenden Health has to offer its members, visit: https://www.benenden.co.uk/be-healthy/body/dr-google-will-see-you-now/