Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New study examines how medical symptoms presented online makes a difference in health-care choices

13.03.2012
A new study examines how symptoms presented online influence people's reactions to possible medical conditions

Maybe you've had a reoccurring sore throat or frequent headaches. Perhaps the pain in your leg won't go away. In the past, you might have gone to a doctor's office to diagnose symptoms.

Today, people are more likely to go online to punch in their symptoms.

Details of a new study examining how symptoms presented online influence people's reactions to possible medical conditions will be presented in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science. Researchers found that identifying symptoms in "streaks" - sequences of consecutive items on a list that are either general or specific - prompted people to perceive higher disease risk than symptoms that were not identified in an uninterrupted series.

The research was conducted by Arizona State University Associate Psychology Professor Virginia Kwan, Sean Wojcik of the University of California, Irvine, Talya Miron-shatz of Ono Academic College, Ashley Votruba of ASU, and Christopher Olivola of the University of Warwick.

"A recent report by the Health Information National Trends Survey examined the use of Internet in seeking cancer-related information. More than 60 percent of individuals who are feeling ill go to the Internet to search for health information. Many decide to go to the doctor or not based on what they learn online," Kwan said. "This is really an era of self-diagnosis. To our knowledge, our study is the first to examine the impact of online presentation formats on medical decision making."

The research team reviewed the symptom presentations of the 12 deadliest forms of cancer for either males or females on five reputable cancer websites. All of the sites varied in how symptoms were given with some in bullet points, others in paragraphs, severe and common symptoms listed in varied ways and the number of symptoms.

Two studies were conducted, one where a fictional type of thyroid cancer was presented to study participants with six symptoms listed. Researchers varied the way the symptoms were presented from three common and frequently experienced symptoms (i.e. – feeling easily fatigued) followed by three specific symptoms (i.e. – lump in neck); another group was presented symptoms with three specific followed by three common; and the third group received a symptoms list with common and specific interspersed. Researchers used the fictional cancer to ensure no one had prior knowledge of symptoms.

Study participants in the first two groups reported similar results, but the perceived medical risk was significantly lower for the last group that received specific and common symptoms that were interspersed.

A second study for a real type of brain cancer reported the same results as the first study, but when the symptom list was expanded to 12, effects of a list of consecutive series of symptoms was diluted.

"The length of the list matters," Kwan said. "This is analogous to a dilution effect. If you don't have that many symptoms, you may not experience concern about getting that disease if you're looking at a long list."

Medical implications of the study include insight into how symptoms may be presented online, depending on goals. For instance, if someone wants to increase awareness of an emerging medical issue that requires treatment, symptoms that are more likely to be checked off in sequence can be grouped together, Kwan said.

According to Votruba, "If there are concerns that the perceptions of disease risk are too high, possibly resulting in over utilization of health services, then symptom lists should alternate common and specific symptoms or create longer symptom lists."

"Previous research shows that perception of risk of disease is a powerful predictor of health preventative behavior (such as going to the doctor)," Kwan said. "How information is presented online will make a substantive difference in behavior."

Contact:
Julie Newberg
Media Relations Officer
Arizona State University
(480) 727-3116
julie.newberg@asu.edu

Julie Newberg | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.asu.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Innovative genetic tests for children with developmental disorders and epilepsy
11.07.2018 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel

nachricht Oxygen loss in the coastal Baltic Sea is “unprecedentedly severe”
05.07.2018 | European Geosciences Union

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

Im Focus: Chemical reactions in the light of ultrashort X-ray pulses from free-electron lasers

Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.

Free-electron lasers (FELs) generate extremely short and intense X-ray flashes. Researchers can use these flashes to resolve structures with diameters on the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Research finds new molecular structures in boron-based nanoclusters

13.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

Algae Have Land Genes

13.07.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>