Over half of adults in Great Britain self-diagnose, reveals RPS survey

Neal Patel, head of corporate communications at the RPS

More than half of adults in Great Britain self-diagnose when they feel unwell or are experiencing a medical symptom, according to the results of a YouGov survey, commissioned by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS), which were released on 15 November 2016.

The online survey, which had responses from 2,046 people aged 18 or older from across Great Britain, also revealed that 43% of respondents admitted they had used pain relief medication which was not prescribed for them following a self-diagnosis.

“‘Do-it-yourself’ diagnosis can be downright dangerous,” says Neal Patel, head of corporate communications at the RPS, who warns that patients may miss something a pharmacist or doctor would know was important.

The RPS advises patients to speak to their community pharmacist before taking or buying medicines to treat a health problem. “These medicines can be addictive and cause other serious side effects. If you have severe pain it should always be investigated properly,” says Patel.

The survey also highlighted that 78% of respondents had sought medical advice from the internet, while 10% had consulted an app on their mobile phone or tablet to self-diagnose.

“Self-diagnosis online is on the rise but we need to be careful,” says Olutayo Arikawe, community pharmacist and winner of the 2016 RPS I Love My Pharmacist competition. “Technology has a huge part to play in patient care and can lead to some great benefits, however, diagnosing your own symptoms online should be approached with caution.”

“This campaign is all about highlighting the expertise of pharmacists in advising the public about their health,” Patel adds. “Working with patients who consult the internet, pharmacists can interpret information to help patients make the right decisions.” 

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, Over half of adults in Great Britain self-diagnose, reveals RPS survey;Online:DOI:10.1211/PJ.2016.20201949

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