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Many Germans Search the Internet for Treatment Alternatives

Marina Virko
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According to a recent poll, many people in Germany tend to study symptoms of their illnesses on the Internet more and more frequently.

Growing demand for health information

The digital industry association Bitkom announced that 62% of German Internet users obtain data about their condition from the World Wide Web or apps even before visiting a clinic. Of those, 13% do so regularly; 19% sometimes and 30% rarely.

Overall, this number has increased compared to previous years: in 2020, 53% of respondents said they consulted various sites for an explanation of their symptoms before seeing a doctor. In 2021, that figure was 56%.

Many people look for information about the disease even after talking to a doctor. Sixty-three percent of German Internet users admitted it. Most of them (74%) wanted to find out about alternative therapies or get additional information about the diagnosis, treatment or disease (68%).

According to the same survey, 62% of respondents were looking for a second opinion and 51% were looking for alternatives to prescribed medications. Almost a quarter said they could no longer remember all the details of the consultation with the doctor. Fifteen percent didn't understand his explanations and therefore began to research the problem on their own after the appointment.

An Internet search is a follow-up to seeing a professional

According to the poll, generally it was mostly a matter of supplementing the recommendations received from a specialist. Only eleven percent turned to the Internet because they did not trust the diagnosis. However, 43% of users said that they once had cancelled a doctor appointment because they had studied the topic on the Web and eventually benefited from self-treatment.

"The Web has a lot of high-quality information on health issues," explained Malte Fritsche of Bitkom. "People can also learn about their symptoms and treatments with a high degree of accuracy through innovative apps. However, it is important to pay attention to the reliability of the source – and, if in doubt, be sure to contact your doctor."

A representative sample of 1,144 German residents aged 16 and older were involved in the poll.


1.         Viele Deutsche recherchieren ihre Krankheits-Symptome im Internet, Bitkom e. V., 2023


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