Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública
Print version ISSN 1020-4989
VASCONCELLOS-SILVA, Paulo Roberto and CASTIEL, Luis David. New self-care technologies and the risk of self-diagnosis through the Internet. Rev Panam Salud Publica [online]. 2009, vol.26, n.2, pp. 172-175. ISSN 1020-4989. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1020-49892009000800010.
Encouraged by a solid commercial structure and growing cultural influence, information and communication technologies for health (ICTH) appear as a natural reference point for matters of self-care. As a first trend, ICTH involved end user consultations to websites specializing in health. Soon after, the development of algorithms focused on the identification of illnesses to meet the needs of consumers seeking distant, impersonal technical advice. Despite the comfort and confidentiality, there is evidence that such resources have generated more doubt and anxiety than meaningful clarifications. According to the literature, users seem to have difficulties in identifying and naming their own symptoms, in addition to having to choose between shallow or alarmist advice. Despite the investments made in providing information, most sources of information do not rely on previous cultural studies about how users interpret their health conditions when resorting to self-diagnosis, which ends up by pushing them, paradoxically, to look for specialists.
Keywords : Internet; self-care; access to information; consumer satisfaction; consumer health information.