'Never Google Your Symptoms': How A Swedish Doctor Is Battling Health Misinformation | BOOM
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‘Never Google Your Symptoms’: How A Swedish Doctor Is Battling Health Misinformation

‘Never Google Your Symptoms’: How A Swedish Doctor Is Battling Health Misinformation

Dr. Henrik Widegren mixes his love for medicine and music with quirky titled songs in his first English album and probably the world’s only album on medicine.

Henrik Widegren with his band.
Henrik Widegren with his band. Source: Youtube

Dr. Henrik Widegren, a Swedish voice doctor and an ENT specialist by day, moonlights as a musician writing songs on misinformation in the health space.

The now viral song ‘Never Google Your Symptoms’ from his debut album ‘Medical melodies and surgical symptoms’ is a satirical take on self-diagnosis.

Henrik has actively been a part of the Swedish theater and music scene. Prior to the English album, he released 3 Swedish albums. His current album has 13 songs all related to health and medicine.

The songs have quirky titles such as ‘Text messages from the ER’, ‘A Statistically Significant Love Song’, and ‘How to make a Baby.’

Never Google Your Symptoms

‘Never Google Your Symptoms’ released in April focuses on how people tend to google every small symptom that they observe and experience.

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“If you google pain in your left arm, the search results in a heart attack alarm,” is one of the lines in the song.

The song suggests that the web search always churns out results of major illnesses which leads to fear among the person seeking information online that they are suffering from a major illness.

This phenomenon is medically called hypochondria.

BOOM contacted Dr. Henrik to understand his perspective for foraying into making songs related to misinformation in health and health in general.

Dr. Henrik, however, does not have a grouse against Google.

“I think Google is a fantastic tool. But this song is supposed to be satirical and ironic,’ Dr. Henrik said.

“When the song was released in Sweden it triggered an interesting debate whether or not you should google your symptoms, and some patients were upset because they thought that the song was serious.”

“So I must stress that the song is not serious and of course I think patients should seek information on the internet but with caution”, Dr. Henrik continued.

Battling Misinformation

Dr. Henrik believes that googling symptoms unnecessarily sparks fear among his patients.

“I have had many patients that have come to me early because they googled their symptoms. But, on the other hand, google also gives you the worst information. And I have met healthy patients that have worried themselves sick because they googled their symptoms.”

He also stated that he prefers his patients informing him that they have googled symptoms instead of being misinformed and embarrassed.

“Some of my patients are embarrassed when they admit that they have googled their symptoms before they come to me. If my patients have found worrying information on the internet, I want them to tell me straight away! In that way I can confirm or reject their suspicions and we will communicate much better!” Dr. Henrik added.

How Did A Doctor Decide To Make Music About Medicine?

Dr. Henrik stated that he always liked singing, playing, and writing songs.

“A couple of years ago a colleague started an after work pub for doctors and nurses in our hospital, and we wanted to have some entertainment. So I wrote a couple of songs about life in the hospital.”

“After this I started to sing and perform at medical conferences and parties, and started to make albums with medical music.”

He decided to release this album in English when he had to translate his songs at an international medical conference where he was performing.

I realised the world needs more medical music, so I decided to make an whole album”, he mentioned.

Most of the songs in the album are inspired from real life experiences.

“‘Never Google Your Symptoms’ was written after I had three patients in a row that were terrified and thought they had laryngeal cancer. After a brief look at their vocal cords I could assure them that they were healthy. “

While ‘How Do You Make A Baby’ and ‘I Can Never See A Doctor’ were inspired from his conversations with his children.

Dr. Henrik’s motto is: There are thousand songs about love, but none about the duodenum (first part of the small intestine).

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Shachi Sutaria is a fact-checker at BOOM. She has previously worked as a health research analyst at AMS Consulting, Lucknow for various national and international clients. She is a post- graduate in Public Health- Health administration from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai.

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