Women are twice as likely to turn to the Internet to determine the causes of their minor aches and pains, according to a new survey.

According to an online survey conducted by Flexcin International, makers of a joint inflammation supplement, women searched the Internet for initial research on medical issues twice as often as men.

The company surveyed 500 men and 500 women between the ages of 35 and 60 across the United States. The results showed that 73.6 percent of women in the survey researched their aches and pains on the Internet, compared to 44.1 percent of men.

One woman, Monica Blount-Hart said she uses Web sites such as WebMD (http://www.webmd.com/) to get information about an illness before going to a physician. “I am able to receive immediate satisfaction,” she said. “Sometimes when I go to a physician I feel like I’m being rushed without proper follow-up with a diagnosis.”

Like Blount-Hart, women in the survey said that they used this method to gather information on a variety of aches and pains, not life-threatening illnesses. Men in the survey said that they were less likely to turn to the Web because they were less able to accurately describe their ailments.

“Although the Internet doesn’t replace your doctor, I think these results speak to the fact that both women and men are very frustrated with the healthcare industry,” Tamer Elsafy, CEO and founder of Flexcin, said in a statement. “If you have general aches and pains or a case of the sniffles, people today are more inclined to research the Internet rather than wait several days to see a doctor and then pay the high cost of prescriptions.”

The research paid off for Blount-Hart, who used information she found to help a physician correctly diagnose her grandmother’s illness.

“It seemed as if the doctor’s couldn’t figure out anything. So, I did some research through Google and entered symptoms referring to my grandmother’s condition,” she said about a condition the nature of which she declined to reveal. “I printed it out and gave the information to her doctor. This was unheard of by the doctor. He looked it up and was amazed. She was then treated with medication.”

Satisfied with the results, Blount-Hart said her grandmother is now doing well. She also plans to continue to use the Web to research minor medical issues.

A recent study in The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery tested the quality and content of information on the Web for common diagnoses related to orthopedic sports medicine, including tendonitis and knee injuries. The authors found that information varied widely across the Internet and suggested that users searching for information should exercise caution and only trust reputable sites that display the HONcode seal of compliance. The HONcode is a seal of approval from the Health On the Net Foundation, a non-profit organization created to improve the quality of online health information.


Melissa Jones

Special to the AFRO