News Video | Policy | GPs | Hospitals | Medical | Mental Health | Welfare | Search


Kiwis Using The Internet To Find What Ails Them

16 December 2007
News release

Kiwis Are Using The Internet To Find What Ails Them

Computer savvy New Zealanders are consulting the internet before visiting their own GP and using web based-research to challenge medical opinions, according to a survey conducted on behalf of the Southern Cross Medical Care Society.

The TNS Conversa survey shows 73% of respondents use the internet to gain access to health information and one in five take researched information with them to their GP’s appointment.

22% report challenging the advice or diagnosis of a doctor or medical professional, based on their own knowledge gained from the internet. This is despite a mere 1% of respondents reporting they “always” trusted health information from the web. When prescribed medicines, 41% go to the internet to learn more about the drugs they are taking.

Southern Cross Healthcare Group Chief Executive, Dr Ian McPherson, a former GP, said he had mixed feelings on these statistics.

“On one hand it’s concerning that people making their own diagnosis could be getting it very wrong. On the other hand it’s a positive sign that people are increasingly proactive about their health and are prepared to look for information which helps them have a constructive and more informed discussion with their GP. They are more likely to go to the doctor better prepared with questions.”

Dr McPherson said there was no harm in challenging a medical opinion, but he cautioned people not to put too much faith in the internet to self-diagnose.

“There are a number of reputable and authoritative sites on health information but there is also a lot of pseudoscience out there.

“Many illnesses can have similar symptoms and the internet can’t replace your doctor when it comes to making a fully informed individual diagnosis.”
Dr McPherson says Southern Cross’s own internet health information pages are becoming increasingly popular. “We are seeing up to 10,000 visits a month as a direct result of people using Google to search for information specific to a medical condition.

“Some of our health information pages that are most frequently visited include whooping cough, chickenpox, shingles, glandular fever, menopause, hysterectomy, endometriosis, stress, cholesterol and blood pressure management.

The survey results showed 66% of respondents sometimes trust health information on the web while 18% report almost always trusting it. A further 14% said they hardly ever trusted health information on the web, except on official sites. Only 1% regarded the web as an information resource that could always be trusted.

- ends -

Background information:
TNS Conversa surveyed 1505 Southern Cross members in August and September of 2007.

Southern Cross’ own website,, provides a comprehensive and medically-checked bank of information about medical conditions and procedures, as well as general information on health and wellbeing.

About Southern Cross Healthcare:
Southern Cross Healthcare is one of New Zealand’s best known and most trusted brands, offering a broad range of health-related services to New Zealanders since the early 1960s. The Southern Cross Healthcare Group consists of two separate organisations – Southern Cross Medical Care Society offering health insurance and related services, and Southern Cross Health Trust, operating 10 wholly-owned hospitals and three joint venture hospitals along with Southern Cross Travel Insurance.


© Scoop Media

Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines


Howard Davis: Review - A Girl Named Mo

Moana Ete brought her three-piece band A Girl Named Mo to Wellington's intimate and iconic Bats Theatre last week for a five-night residency. Each show was recorded and filmed live for the release of her debut album 'Platonic/Romantic' on Loop records later this year. More>>

For The Birds: Who Will Be Crowned Bird Of The Year?

The competition involves well-known and enthusiastic New Zealanders acting as ‘campaign managers’ for their favourite birds with many going to great lengths to get New Zealanders to vote for their chosen bird... More>>


  • Greening the Red Zone - Bird of the year heats up: kōtare concedes, backs kea
  • Image Out-Link - Giselle Clarkson on Twitter
  • Gordon Campbell: On Bob Dylan's Nobel (And The Surplus)

    So Bob Dylan has just won the Nobel Prize for… Literature? Wow. I’d be just as happy if he’d won for his work on particle physics (“One Grain of Sand”, “Simple Twist of Fate”) or got the Economics prize for his work on the theory of contracting (“Don’t Think Twice Its Alright”) ... More>>


    Scoop Review Of Books: Whose Goat Was That?

    Mysterious Mysteries of Aro Valley is a sharp, satirical and sometimes downright scary romp through and around that valley in ways that made me question the realities of the places I thought I knew so well. More>>


    NZ On Air TV Funding: More Comedy Comes Out Of The Shadows

    Paranormal Event Response Unit is a series conceived by Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi as a TV spin-off from their highly acclaimed feature film What We Do In The Shadows. More>>


    Mars News: Winners Announced For The 2016 Apra Silver Scroll Awards

    Wellington singer-songwriter and internationally acclaimed musician Thomas Oliver has won the 2016 APRA Silver Scroll Award with his captivating love song ‘If I Move To Mars’. More>>


    Get More From Scoop



    Search Scoop  
    Powered by Vodafone
    NZ independent news