Health Advice from Unqualified Social Media Influencers

Are You Taking Health Advice from Unqualified Social Media Influencers?

Are social media influencers giving you unqualified health advice? Social media is now full of individual influencers and groups giving health advice…How do you know the advice you’re getting is the right advice though? 

Dr Punam Krishan wrote a great article in the Scotsman regarding this.

Dr Krishan talks about how the digital era has suddenly given us access to a wealth of information so we can try to understand symptoms ourselves.

But we often end up coming to wrong conclusions or even thinking about the most serious conditions.

This often adds to our anxiety about our own health and may contribute to the demands placed on our health system.

Conversely it does allow patients to be more informed about their treatments and especially with long term conditions, patients can become ‘experts’ in their own conditions. They’re often termed ‘patient experts’.

Patient experts

But this does not mean those ‘patient experts’ are experts in managing that condition for other people. They might know their body best, but they don’t have medical degrees (Unless of course that influencer does have a medical degree).

When people talk about their own health experiences generally this is fine, but when advice starts being given out to other people, then this can become dangerous. It should be clear that one’s treatment journey or experience is likely to be very different from another person. 

We’ve all googled our symptoms.

There is absolutely no reason why we shouldn’t, google is a wealth of information, but it should be taken with a pinch of salt.

According to the 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer, search engine platforms provide some of the most trusted information sources, but you only get out what you put in, and the untrained brain may not be a very good information filter.

Social media on the other hand is one of the least trusted; we all saw what happened with the Brexit vote and US elections. 

Doctors on google

What about a doctor going on google? Well a doctor can filter that information quickly, understand which websites may be giving false or unreliable information and make sense of the information in a more scientific way.

Without this training our minds can lead us to seemingly frightening diagnoses to our harmless symptoms. 

If you’re on social media make sure you’re getting advice from a reputable source.

Remember that advice has not been tailored to you, so while general advice can be helpful, make sure you get advice that is individual to you.

You have one mind, one body. Don’t put it to the anecdotal evidence of others.


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