With the Internet many patients visit the GP after extensive searches on the Internet. They usually have an idea about what’s wrong with them. In a recent publication in the British Medical Journal I found a recent article on this subject. In visits to a GP patients the self diagnosis (also called self labelling) was responsible for initiating a diagnosis in 18% of consultations.
Few studies have been done on the accuracy of self diagnosis. These studies suggest that recurrent urinary tract infection, recurrent anterior uveitis, schistosomiasis, and head lice can all be self diagnosed correctly.
There are also studies suggesting that certain conditions are often misdiagnosed by patients. Examples from the literature search include pregnancy, vaginal candidiasis, and scabies.
Patients with recurrent conditions and chronic diseases are often experts about their illness. A collaborative approach within a traditional diagnostic framework with these patients yield the most satisfying results for all.
Prevalence, previous episodes, general awareness of condition, and patient education affect the accuracy of self diagnosis. Self diagnosis should always undergo subsequent refinement and challenge.
Excellent article, should have been free access.
Goyder, C., McPherson, A., & Glasziou, P. (2009). Self diagnosis BMJ, 339 (nov11 1) DOI: 10.1136/bmj.b4418