Skip to content

Expert Reaction: Should Google offer an online screening test for depression?

Posted on 14 September 2017

With one in five Americans experiencing clinical depression in their lifetime, should Google offer an online screening test for depression? University of York researcher, Professor Simon Gilbody, debates the issue in The British Medical Journal (BMJ).


The Google tool focuses on physiological and biomedical symptoms

Professor Gilbody, from the University of York’s Department of Health Sciences, said: “There are reasons to be concerned that data generated by a depression screening programme might be used to market antidepressants.

"Depression should be diagnosed following a clinical assessment rather than a one-time screening test.  Episodes of transient and self-limiting psychological distress will be confused with pervasive disorders that warrant treatment. 

“Recent disease awareness campaigns and unregulated screening programmes present risks of over-diagnosis, supplier induced demand, and inappropriate treatment. 

“Google’s initiative has been reported positively and uncritically despite bypassing the usual checks and balances that exist for good reason. It is unlikely that their initiative will improve population health and may in fact do harm.”

The full article is published in The BMJ here: http://www.bmj.com/content/358/bmj.j4144

 

Media enquiries

Samantha Martin
Deputy Head of Media Relations

Tel: +44 (0)1904 322029