Ill? You better not ask Google about that

Ill? You better not ask Google about that

Practically everyone has looked for symptoms online when something seems to be wrong with their own body. A study now shows that Google and Co. are not the trustworthy advisor that search engines are often mistaken for.

Google and Yandex: Wrong address for medical questions

With services such as YouTube, Gmail and Co., the search engine provider has long been firmly integrated into our everyday lives. So it's no wonder that many people trust Google and Co. for their own health . But a study now shows that this is not only of little use in many cases, it is even risky.

Researchers from the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg and several Russian research institutions and universities have joined forces for the study. They primarily checked search results on medical questions from the Russian search engine Yandex, but also compared their results with the global market leader Google.

The scientists investigated whether search queries that contained both a symptom or a disease and a possible remedy were answered correctly. For example, a question like "Does aspirin help with headaches?" Would be included. But it was also about supposed home remedies and how they should be used. The researchers compared the search engine snippets - the website preview that already contains initial information - with data and answers from recognized medical specialist databases.

The results: Around 44 percent of the answers to the 30 most frequently asked questions at Yandex incorrectly stated that a product worked in a certain application. In comparison, Google performed slightly better, but the search results there also provided 32 percent false positive answers (source: study Misbeliefs and Biases in Health-Related Searches at ACM Digital Library).

In the video , we explain how to use your Google account properly and get the most out of yourself:

Warnings on search engines are a rarity

The lack of warning notices in search results was particularly noticeable: only in 13 percent (Yandex) or 10 percent (Google) of the cases was information about side effects or advised to seek professional help (source: heise). According to the experts, the results suggest that caution when using search engines is crucial . Not all information on health, diseases and their treatment corresponds to the state of medical knowledge.

Especially if you are actually seriously ill or injured, a visit to the doctor should always have priority .


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