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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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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

The Dead And Disappeared: A Village Emerges From 72 Days Of Russian Occupation

Russian forces have been pushed out of the area around Kharkiv. Villages that were occupied for two months are free once more — but utterly destroyed. And thousands of people have disappeared without a trace.

Kharkiv and the surrounding villages faced weeks of constant Russian shelling.

Alfred Hackensberger

TSYKRUNY — Andriy Kluchikov uses a walking stick, but is otherwise fairly sprightly for a 94-year-old. Under his black wool hat, Kluchikov seems fearless as he surveys his hometown in northeastern Ukraine. “The missiles don't scare me,” he says with a smile. “I have slept in my own bed every night and never went down into the basement.”

As for the two-meter-wide bomb crater that has appeared in his garden, between the vegetable patch and the greenhouse with its shattered plastic roof, Kluchikov almost seems proud. “No one can intimidate me,” he says. “Not even the Russians.”

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In the early days of the war, in February, Russian artillery almost completely destroyed this village of Tsyrkuny, near Kharkiv, Ukraine's second largest city. Only a few houses, including his own, were left undamaged. Shortly afterwards, Russian troops marched into the village and occupied it for 72 days. It was not until early this week that the Ukrainian army was able to liberate Tsyrkuny and many other areas to the north of the country’s second-largest city, Kharkiv.

It is the Ukrainians’ most successful counter-offensive so far. They are thought to have pushed the invading troops back almost to the Russian border. “The offensive is gaining momentum,” according to the independent American thinktank Institute for the Study of War. “It has forced Russian troops on the defensive and has successfully alleviated artillery pressure on Kharkiv City.”

In the modern city of Kharkiv, home to around 1.5 million residents, the relief has been palpable over the last few days. Restaurants and cafes have reopened. People are walking and riding bikes in the parks, and couples are strolling hand in hand, enjoying the warm spring sunshine. You can still hear the artillery, but it is now many miles away.

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