Resources for Cyberchondriacs

Although Microsoft Word still underlines it in red, googling the word cyberchondriac provides 46,800 hits, and the term cyberchondria has had its own Wikipedia entry since June, 2005. It seems that the practice of self-diagnosing medical conditions with the assistance of Dr. Google continues to grow in popularity.

Although health professionals have plenty of online resources at their disposal, specialized search engines are popping up to cater to the demands of laypeople in pursuit of an ailment, a cure, or merely a second opinion. For instance, Healia allows a searcher to filter their results for articles at a basic (or advanced) reading level. Medstory breaks down your search to offer specific info on drugs, related conditions, experts in the field, and medical procedures.

My personal favourite, Healthline, offers a symptom search, even providing a drop down box of the top 50 symptoms or the ability to browse symptoms alphabetically. Talk about a bonanza for people who know they’ve caught something, but just aren’t sure yet what it could be! For instance, someone with both nausea and hair loss may be suffering from leishmaniasis, a parasitic disease caught from a sandfly bite.

I’m not aware of any similar sites providing legal information search capabilities to individuals. I’m not sure why that would be, since there are many parallels between the two areas. However, I wonder if there is a niche for a search engine that would make legal information more readily available to the general public. Does anyone think CanLII might be interested in adding a “symptom search” to their capabilities?


  1. A legal symptoms site… How about (in homage to, with a motto De minimis curat vex.