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Original Papers

“Muddling by googling” – Cyberchondria among outpatient attendees of two hospitals in Sri Lanka

Authors:

C. A. Wijesinghe,

University of Kelaniya, LK
About C. A.
Faculty of Medicine
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U. L. N. S. Liyanage,

Colombo North Teaching Hospital, Ragama, LK
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K. G. C. L. Kapugama,

Colombo North Teaching Hospital, Ragama, LK
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W. A. N. P. Warsapperuma,

Colombo North Teaching Hospital, Ragama, LK
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S. S. Williams,

University of Kelaniya, LK
About S. S.
Faculty of Medicine
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K. A. L. A. Kuruppuarachchi,

University of Kelaniya, LK
About K. A. L. A.
Faculty of Medicine
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A. Rodrigo

University of Kelaniya, LK
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Faculty of Medicine
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Abstract

Background

The internet is widely used as a source of health information, and the negative effects of this practice is well documented. Cyberchondria, the unfounded escalation of concerns about common symptoms based on review of online information has been identified as a major concern. This area has not been studied in Sri Lanka.

 

Aims

We studied the prevalence, nature and effects of cyberchondria among outpatients in Sri Lanka.

 

Methods

Data was gathered from 300 outpatients, 150 patients each attending a government and private hospital in Western province using a self-administered questionnaire.

 

Results

Out of 300 participants 178 were female and the average age was 42 years. Only 24% of the participants used the internet as an information source on health related issues. The prevalence of cyberchondria was 16.3% in our study population. Cyberchondria was significantly more common among outpatients of the private hospital. A majority of patients who made a self-diagnosis using online information had made an incorrect diagnosis. One third of internet users felt anxious after searching about their symptoms and 34% sought further medical advice following internet use.

 

Conclusions The possible negative effects of online health information is a concern in Sri Lanka. Further studies and public education regarding this area in Sri Lanka are required.
How to Cite: Wijesinghe, C.A., Liyanage, U.L.N.S., Kapugama, K.G.C.L., Warsapperuma, W.A.N.P., Williams, S.S., Kuruppuarachchi, K.A.L.A. and Rodrigo, A., 2019. “Muddling by googling” – Cyberchondria among outpatient attendees of two hospitals in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka Journal of Psychiatry, 10(1), pp.11–15. DOI: http://doi.org/10.4038/sljpsyc.v10i1.8202
Published on 18 Jun 2019.
Peer Reviewed

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