NCBI ROFL: Who needs a doctor when you have Facebook?

By ncbi rofl | February 1, 2012 7:13 pm

It’s Facebook week on NCBI ROFL! All this week we’ll be featuring papers about everyone’s favorite social networking site. Enjoy!

Laypersons can seek help from their Facebook friends regarding medical diagnosis

“INTRODUCTION:
In contrast to Internet search engines, social media on the Internet such as Facebook, Twitter, etc. reach a large number of people, who are ready to help answering questions. This type of information aggregation has been dubbed “crowdsourcing” i.e. outsourcing a task to a large group of people or community (a crowd) through an open call. Our aim was to explore whether laypersons via Facebook friends could crowd source their way to a medical diagnosis based on a brief medical history, posted as a status update on Facebook.
MATERIAL AND METHODS:
The participants posted a brief case story on their Facebook profile and asked their “Facebook friends” to come up with possible diagnoses.
RESULTS:
The correct diagnosis was suggested in five of the six case stories, and the correct diagnosis was made after a median of ten minutes. The quality of the responses varied from relevant differential diagnoses to very silly diagnostic suggestions.
CONCLUSION:
Based on this study, we believe that laypersons can use his or her “Facebook friends” to identify the need to see a doctor for their symptoms rather than relying on them to give them a specific diagnosis for their symptoms.”

Photo: Flickr/_Max-B

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: NCBI ROFL, teh interwebs
  • H Davis79

    Is this considered “socialized medicine”? 

  • Juan

    “…we believe that laypersons can use his or her “Facebook friends” to identify the need to see a doctor for their symptoms rather than relying on them to give them a specific diagnosis for their symptoms.” So what was the point, exactly?

  • Tony Mach

    Well, first of all, six case stories is an awful small sample size. So it is difficult to draw conclusions from this.

    Yet I would not categorize this as ROFL. 

    The reality is simply that people will seek help from their friends in medical issues, before (and even instead of) going to a doctor. There are multitudes of reasons for this (cost, time, or simply not bothering to go to the doctor for everything…) and it would behoove medical sciences to acknowledge the reality of health care from time to time – addressing reality with studies is not ROFL.

    But thanks to bringing it to my attention :-)

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About ncbi rofl

NCBI ROFL is the brainchild of two Molecular and Cell Biology graduate students at UC Berkeley and features real research articles from the PubMed database (which is housed by the National Center for Biotechnology information, aka NCBI) that they find amusing (ROFL is a commonly-used internet acronym for "rolling on the floor, laughing"). Follow us on twitter: @ncbirofl

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