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LA STAMPA

When Doctors Must Treat Healthy Patients Made Ill By The Internet

Italian doctors complain that the prevalence of medical information on the Internet has led a large number of people to come down with imaginary illnesses, some of which they attempt to treat themselves prior to arriving at the doctor's office. B

The word “health” is among the most searched online (jfcherry)
The word “health” is among the most searched online (jfcherry)

Worldcrunch NEWSBITES*

An estimated 12 million Italians say they are affected by a heart attack, tumors, diabetes or tuberculosis. But almost all of these so-called illness are imaginary, or, more specifically, diagnosed by the Web. The word "health" is among the most searched online, but less known is the ailment of having too much medical information available at the click of a mouse.

The figure of 12 million comes from a survey of 900 family physicians across Italy, one which reveals alarming data. Of 1 million patients concerned (scaled up to 12 million when projected to reflect the entire population), 35% arrive at the doctor's office already with a self-diagnosis in hand and 20% percent detail symptoms they have tried to cure using online health sites.

Online sites seem to be putting doctors on the defensive, with 22% lamenting their patients' Web-dependence. Topping the list of imaginary diseases, says Giampiero Pirro, one of the physicians who conduted the survey, are "cardio-vascular disorders such as suspected stroke or heart attack, followed by cancer, diabetes, mental disorders, and, after recent news reports, tuberculosis."

A barrage of health information is helping to form a nation of hypochondriacs, as evidenced by a recent Ipsos survey revealing that 54% of Italians visit the doctor more than 10 times per year.

Though stretched by Web-dependent patients, doctors, nevertheleses, may rely on the Internet themselves. The same survey of 900 doctors found that 76% of physicians use sites specifically aimed at health-care professionals in the course of their work. And 33% may consult the web during the course of a patient's visit.

Read more from La Stampa in Italian

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Ideas

The Russian Art Of Protesting Through Silence

English Professor Jacob Edmond takes a look at the creative ways that Russian journalists, writers and artists are turning forced silence into powerful statements.

A woman protests against Russian rapes in Ukraine with her silent taped mouth during a flashmob in New York.

Jacob Edmond

-Analysis-

“It is impossible to stop a speeding train by throwing oneself onto the tracks,” wrote Russian poet Dmitry Kuzmin back in March. He was commenting on Olga Gordienko, a young teacher who, before she was arrested, stood for several minutes on a Moscow street with a sign that read:

At least don’t lie to yourself. War is death. Enough of this bloody fight for peace!

While acknowledging the teacher’s bravery, Kuzmin warned protestors to take care. Change would not come through such isolated acts, however admirable.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

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What would you do if your country launched a war of aggression, causing tens of thousands of deaths and displacing millions? What if the price of protest or even posting objections on social media was arrest and imprisonment?

What if you knew that over the past decades many of your country’s most outspoken journalists had been killed for refusing to the toe the government line? What if even mentioning the word “war” online, in print, or on the street was illegal?

Would you speak out, or keep quiet and bide your time?

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