Research

Googling for a diagnosis—use of Google as a diagnostic aid: internet based study

BMJ 2006; 333 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.39003.640567.AE (Published 30 November 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;333:1143
  1. Hangwi Tang, respiratory and sleep physician1,
  2. Jennifer Hwee Kwoon Ng, consultant rheumatologist2
  1. 1Department of Respiratory and Sleep Medicine, Princess Alexandra Hospital, Brisbane, Q4102, Australia
  2. 2Department of Rheumatology, Princess Alexandra Hospital
  1. Correspondence to: H Tang hangwitang{at}yahoo.com
  • Accepted 22 September 2006

Abstract

Objective To determine how often searching with Google (the most popular search engine on the world wide web) leads doctors to the correct diagnosis.

Design Internet based study using Google to search for diagnoses; researchers were blind to the correct diagnoses.

Setting One year's (2005) diagnostic cases published in the case records of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Cases 26 cases from the New England Journal of Medicine; management cases were excluded.

Main outcome measure Percentage of correct diagnoses from Google searches (compared with the diagnoses as published in the New England Journal of Medicine).

Results Google searches revealed the correct diagnosis in 15 (58%, 95% confidence interval 38% to 77%) cases.

Conclusion As internet access becomes more readily available in outpatient clinics and hospital wards, the web is rapidly becoming an important clinical tool for doctors. The use of web based searching may help doctors to diagnose difficult cases.

Footnotes



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  • This article was posted on bmj.com on [INSERT DATE OF PUBLICATION]: http://bmj.com/cgi/doi/10.1136/bmj.39003.640567.AE

  • Contributors: HT had the idea and designed the study. JHKN helped in the study design. Both authors did the search and analysis and wrote the paper. HT is the guarantor.

  • Funding: None.

  • Competing interests: None declared.

  • Ethical approval: Not sought. The subjects were published cases in the New England Journal of Medicine with no patient identifiers.

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