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Self-diagnosis is the process of diagnosing, or identifying, medical conditions in oneself. It may be assisted by medical dictionaries, books, resources on the Internet, past personal experiences, or recognizing symptoms or medical signs of a condition that a family member previously had.

Self-diagnosis is prone to error and may be potentially dangerous if inappropriate decisions are made on the basis of a misdiagnosis.[1] Because of the risks, self-diagnosis is officially discouraged by governments,[1] physicians, and patient care organizations. Even physicians are discouraged from engaging in self-diagnosis,[2] because doctors also make mistakes in diagnosing themselves.[3] If the self-diagnosis is wrong, then the misdiagnosis can result in improper health care, including wrong treatments and lack of care for serious conditions.[4]

However, self-diagnosis may be appropriate under certain circumstances.[5][6] All over-the-counter (non-prescription) medications are offered on the assumption that people are capable of self-diagnosis[5], determining first that their condition is unlikely to be serious and then the possible harm caused by incorrect medication minor. Some conditions are more likely to be self-diagnosed, especially simple conditions as are familiar conditions such as menstrual cramps, headache.

Complex conditions for which medications are heavily advertised, including conditions like ADHD in adults,[7] present a more challenging situation. Direct-to-consumer marketing of medications is widely criticized for promoting inappropriate self-diagnosis.[8][9] Other conditions that are commonly self-diagnosed include celiac disease.[10]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. 1.0 1.1 Health information on the Internet - Better Health Channel.. URL accessed on 2008-03-23.
  2. AHRQ WebM&M: Case & Commentary. URL accessed on 2008-03-23.
  3. A case of self-diagnosis.. URL accessed on 2008-03-23.
  4. CRICO/RMF - Case Studies - High Risk Areas - Diagnosis - Reliance on Patient’s Self Diagnosis Obscures Fatal Condition. URL accessed on 2008-03-23.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Peter D. Stonier; Fletcher, Andrew; Lionel D. Edwards; Fox, Anthony D (2002). Principles and practice of pharmaceutical medicine, New York: Wiley.
  6. Curbside Consultation - August 1, 2006 -- American Family Physician. URL accessed on 2008-03-23.
  7. Conrad, Peter (2007). The Medicalization of Society: On the Transformation of Human Conditions into Treatable Disorders, Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press.
  8. Self diagnosis from TV drug ads can be dangerous. URL accessed on 2008-03-23. [dead link]
  9. AMA (Professionalism) E-5.015 Direct-to-consumer advertisements of prescription drugs. URL accessed on 2008-03-23. [dead link]
  10. Clinic Handbook: Gastroenterology by J L H Wong (Editor), I. A. Murray (Editor), S. H. Hussaini (Editor), H. R. Dalton (Editor). ISBN 978-1-85996-053-0. Page 151.
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