Internet-savvy patients make life difficult for doctors

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Indy Lifestyle Online

Family doctors are having to redefine their traditional "father figure" role because patients increasingly turn to the internet for medical advice, a conference was told.

Family doctors are having to redefine their traditional "father figure" role because patients increasingly turn to the internet for medical advice, a conference was told.

A study found that GPs were being confronted by patients armed with website print-outs. As a result, they were having to find new ways to preserve the traditional relationship of trust with patients.

A psychologist, Elaine Brohan, from the University of Surrey in Guildford, conducted in-depth interviews with nine rural and urban GPs in Ireland. She presented her findings at the British Psychological Society's conference at the University of Manchester.

She said that, in the past, a GP represented the face of authority, but doctors were switching from being a "father figure" to a "facilitator". That meant providing guidance and advice rather than acting as the fount of all medical knowledge, because patients were already crammed with information.

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