Australians are increasingly turning to “Dr Google” for answers to medical questions before requesting unsuitable tests and treatments in the real world.
The troubling trend has prompted general practitioners to launch a new guide to help doctors and patients navigate tricky and complex conversations.
It covers conditions such as lower back pain, thyroid problems and genetic tests.
Co-author Mark Morgan, a professor of general practice at Bond University, said there was a great need to provide easily accessible evidence-based advice.
“Dr Google is both a problem and an aid,” he told AAP.
“It’s really useful for people to be interested in their own health care and to find information but sometimes that information is low quality.”
The guide is designed to help patients understand why they may need to live with an element of uncertainty and explains why heavily promoted treatments may not work.
“This isn’t a list of ‘do not do’ or ‘never do’, it’s a guide to respectful conversations to try and get people on the same page about the best way forward,” Dr Morgan said.
“You can’t do every test that’s available for every condition for every person, it’d cause harm by doing too many tests and finding things that are incidental and not related to the condition.”
The resource will be launched at a Royal Australian College of General Practitioners conference on Friday, alongside guidelines for mental health consultations and billing.
Industry leaders will give presentations on topical issues including voluntary assisted dying, climate change, rural health and family violence.