Saturday, February 4, 2012

Can your Facebook friends make a diagnosis?

Laypersons can seek help from their Facebook friends regarding medical diagnosis.
[Article in Danish]
Folkestad L, Brodersen JB, Hallas P, Brabrand M.

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.

The participants posted a brief case story on their Facebook profile and asked their “Facebook friends” to come up with possible diagnoses.

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.

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.

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