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Google’s depression tool funded by Pfizer

Published: September 14, 2017
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Source: Daily Mail

Google’s screening tool that enables people to check online whether they are clinically depressed could do more harm than good, one expert has warned.

Last month, the tech giant released a self-assessment quiz, called the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9), which pops up as a result for the search query ‘Am I depressed?’ on a computer or cell phone.

Google developed its test in partnership with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) but one professor claims that the quiz could just lead to over-treatment of depression amid the US’s opioid epidemic.  

He warns the tool’s development was funded by major drug company Pfizer, which profits from the sale of antidepressants.

Google and NAMI both stressed that the results of their test are not an actual diagnosis.

The quiz asks questions about how frequently the respondent feels down, what their energy levels, sleeping and eating habits are like, and if they have had recent thoughts of suicide.

It returns a numeric score and is meant to help users determine when to seek help, and to provide some basic information they can take to their health care professionals for reference.

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