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The Sciences

NCBI ROFL: Who needs a doctor when you have Facebook?

DiscoblogBy ncbi roflFebruary 2, 2012 6:13 AM


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It's Facebook week on NCBI ROFL! All this week we'll be featuring papers about everyone's favorite social networking site. Enjoy!Laypersons can seek help from their Facebook friends regarding medical diagnosis "INTRODUCTION: 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. MATERIAL AND METHODS: The participants posted a brief case story on their Facebook profile and asked their "Facebook friends" to come up with possible diagnoses. RESULTS: 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. CONCLUSION: 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."


Photo: Flickr/_Max-B

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