How Accurate Are Online Symptom Checkers?

Posted On: 10-28-2016
How Accurate Are Online Symptom Checkers?
Checking symptoms online is a fairly common step a lot of people to take to determine if they have something that's going to require a trip to the pharmacy or doctor. While there's nothing wrong with getting a general idea of what may be behind your aches and pains, it's worth considering just how accurate online symptom checkers are and whether or not you should really rely on the results.

Evaluating Symptom Checker Accuracy

A Harvard Medical School study found that online symptom checkers were accurate about half of the time. The study looked at 23 sites with symptom checkers, including trusted ones from WebMD and Mayo Clinic. Half of the checkers reviewed presented the correct diagnosis among the first set of results listed.

Seeking Medical Advice Online

A Pew Research Center study found that more than 70 percent of online users check for medical information while browsing. Doing a random search for medical information can produce questionable results. Instead, such searches, including ones that lead to the use of an online symptom checker, should be used as general guide for what "may" be the problem and not considered an official diagnosis.

Considering Quality and Accessibility to Info

When searching for a symptom checker to use, consider the quality of the website. Generally, .org and .gov websites are going to be more reliable. The same is true of generally trustworthy sites and their online directory of medical information. In general, look for other important factors on the website, such as additional medical facts available, along with an assortment of videos, diagrams, illustrations, and other useful presentations of medical info that can help you gather more info that's likely to be reliable.

While online symptom checkers can be useful, such tools aren't meant to be a substitute for a more precise diagnosis from a doctor. Your regular doctor can ask specific questions based on what they know of your medical history and what they're seeing rather than from a database. Instead, use your preferred symptom checker as more of a guide to know when to see what your doctor has to say.

See Related Articles

5 Myths About Back Pain

Back pain can affect anyone at any age. In fact, eight out o ...
Posted On: 03-03-2017
read more

Back Injuries: When Should You See Your Doctor?

In most instances, back pain related to minor injuries resol ...
Posted On: 04-15-2016
read more

Chronic Pain & Its Link to Depression

When someone is experiencing chronic physical pain, the indi ...
Posted On: 11-04-2016
read more

Cutting Through Chronic Pain’s “Brain Fog”

Does chronic pain make it harder for you to concentrate? Man ...
Posted On: 02-21-2020
read more

Finding Your Best Sleeping Position

There are a handful of different sleeping positions, but whi ...
Posted On: 07-29-2016
read more

Heroin Use in United States Costs Society Billions

A new study published in the journal PLOS One shows that her ...
Posted On: 06-16-2017
read more

How Much Sleep Do You Really Need?

You probably know that you need sleep like you need a lot of ...
Posted On: 08-18-2015
read more

Is Happiness Healthy?

There is a strong connection between happiness and healthine ...
Posted On: 04-27-2015
read more

Managing Pain with Water-Based Exercise

Living with pain often contributes to a less active lifestyl ...
Posted On: 10-13-2017
read more

Related Doctors

View All

Surgical Procedures

View All

Be Healthy

View All

Health News

Watch & learn

View All
Please enter required fields.
Subscription Successful.
Already Subscribed.
Enter Valid Email Address.