Dangers of self-diagnosis highlighted by RPS survey

Over half (51 per cent) of UK adults self diagnose when feeling unwell, while more than three-quarters (78 per cent) seek medical advice from the internet when they require diagnosis. This is according to a new survey released by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS).

The survey is part of a campaign promoting the messages that people who are unwell should speak to a pharmacist rather than attempt to diagnose their own symptoms, and to take particular care when using internet sources.

Commenting on the survey results, Neal Patel, head of corporate communications at the RPS, said: “DIY diagnosis can be downright dangerous. You could be missing something a pharmacist or doctor would know was important. Whilst there are good online sites, there’s an awful lot of nonsense out there too.”

The survey also revealed that more than two in five (43 per cent) of the people surveyed admitted to using pain relief medication prescribed for other people after self-diagnosing, rather than visiting a pharmaicst or GP themselves, to which Mr Patel responded: “These medicines can be addictive and cause other serious side-effects. If you have severe pain it should always be investigated properly.”

Mr Patel added: “This campaign is all about highlighting the expertise of pharmacists in advising the public about their health. Working with patients who consult the internet, pharmacists and their teams can interpret information to help patients make the right decisions.”

The survey of 2,046 UK adults aged 18 and over, was carried out online by YouGov between 23-26 September 2016.

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