Make it clear with evidence-based practice

Georgina Wintersgill asks how patient research on symptoms online impacts on practice, and how you can assess the evidence that supports the right treatment recommendations.

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The rise of people searching for symptoms on the internet, or ‘seeing Dr Google’, has led to a greater public awareness of health conditions as well as heightened health anxiety, or ‘cyberchondria’.

Patients increasingly conduct their own research before attending optometrist appointments, explains Daniel Hardiman-McCartney MCOptom, Clinical Adviser at the College. “What they bring in is very variable: it ranges from relevant, high-quality research papers to spurious newspaper headlines – or even something they have seen on YouTube. But I encourage discussion of whatever has been found as it is essential to improve patient education.”

But how should optometrists interpret the evidence’s value and communicate the best approach for the patient?

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