Google hasn't quite replaced the doctor yet. A recent study out of Harvard Medical School finds that the web isn't a very good way to figure out what ails you. The study showed that even sites touted as sophisticated symptom-checkers were extremely unreliable.

Many popular symptom-checkers, such as WebMD, respond to symptoms by suggesting many — sometimes dozens — of possible ailments, with the most likely condition at the top.

However, the study found that the sites only yielded the correct diagnosis as the top result in 34 percent of cases. In 42 percent of cases, the correct diagnosis was not even listed in the first 20 results. (The researchers asked respondents to enter different sets of symptoms linked to various illnesses into 23 symptom-checking websites to gauge site accuracy.)

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Dan Cook

Dan Cook is a journalist and communications consultant based in Portland, OR. During his journalism career he has been a reporter and editor for a variety of media companies, including American Lawyer Media, BusinessWeek, Newhouse Newspapers, Knight-Ridder, Time Inc., and Reuters. He specializes in health care and insurance related coverage for BenefitsPRO.