The Pascoe Study 2017: How greatly the sufferer of an illness longs for encouragement and understanding

Google is increasingly replacing the trip to the doctor’s office. Today, a person with a health complaint tends to turn to the Internet first. What drives patients ‘online’, and how do they conduct their search? What simplifies a search, and what makes it more difficult? And: What are patients looking for when they research their health online, and how do they feel about it?

The Cologne-based rheingold institute examined the topic of online (health-based) searches for the first time in an extensive study conducted on behalf of Pascoe Naturmedizin. The study found that the Internet is the central backstop in the event of illness. ‘When searching the Internet, patients are concerned to do much more than gain information. The Internet becomes the scene of the kind of extensive (health-related) search that just a few years ago would have occurred in the analogue world of doctors and health practitioners’ offices’, Stephan Grünewald, certified psychologist and co-founder of the rheingold institute in Cologne, says of this phenomenon. In doctors’ offices and hospitals, patients often do not receive the time, understanding and encouragement they desperately need in their condition.

Subliminal religious longing

‘This gives Google the nimbus of a potential saviour for many people, serving subliminal religious motivations and longings. Even for sophisticated users of the Internet, Google is the point of first contact and the beginning of all searches’, Grünewald points out. Google suggestions are readily taken up and pursued. Whatever Google fails to display during a search does not exist for users; to them, it is not part of the analogue world.

The representative study also makes it clear that Internet searches in the otherwise accelerated virtual world should not proceed so quickly.

„Prompt healing at the touch of a button is not something patients expect or desire. They know that healing takes time and are willing to invest that time“,

says Birgit Langebartels, certified psychologist and head of the study at the rheingold institute in Cologne.

Characteristics of a pilgrimage

Even in virtual space, the journey on which patients embark is long and difficult. Driven by the desire to feel better at the end of the journey, they are willing to deal with new things, take lots of detours, literally go through ups and downs in their search.

To assist people on this virtual pilgrimage while providing assistance at the same time, a website needs to offer far more than diagnoses. ‘The searchers want to feel perceived as a whole person, with all their worries, needs and longings. The virtual pilgrimage reaches its end only when a person has rediscovered him- or herself, understands him- or herself and has the feeling of being able to face everyday life with fresh courage’, Stephan Grünewald emphasises.

Six aspects of a successful journey to health:

01 –
Comfort and understanding
Make the patient feel seen and cared for.

02 –
Strengthening the searcher
Use understandable technical terms and self-explanatory diagrams as well as clear structures and overviews to provide orientation.

03 –
Point out treatment options and case studies
This is how the website provider meets people’s desire to encounter miracle remedies and reversals of fortune.

04 –
Building bridges to everyday life in the real, analogue world
Enable concrete interaction through hotlines and offers.

05 –
Case stories and queries of physical symptoms
Patients can compare photographs of symptoms to their own complaints, becoming familiar with themselves and learning to understand themselves.

06 –
A search needs its revenue
Tips, recommendations or advice should be practical and understandable. Concrete everyday aids complete the array of forms of help for those seeking healing online. Along the virtual pilgrimage, Pascoe Naturmedizin wants to be a trustworthy and competent partner in the online (health) search.

The Pascoe Academy was created for this purpose, to point up alternative paths in the field of unconventional medicine and make the exciting world of natural medicine comprehensible.

The click for natural health:

Videos, small tests and certificates presented in this portal combine decades of experience in continuing education and enthusiasm for natural medicine.
‘With the Academy, all interested parties can become specialists in natural medicine, equipping them to better assess naturopathic treatment forms. Nature’s treasure chest is open wide to improve health and the quality of life’, according to Annette Pascoe, Managing Director of Pascoe Naturmedizin.

An offer – especially for professionals

‘Professionals will find what they’re looking for, too: A special, DocCheck-protected area provides offers that are tailored to the specific needs of physicians, medical practitioners and other professionals’, Annette Pascoe explains. ‘This is where experts in research and practice pass the great wealth of knowledge along to their colleagues.’

Visit the Pascoe Akademie at and become a competent advisor in the field of natural medicine.

The rheingold Expert

Birgit Langebartels

Birgit Langebartels

Birgit Langebartels, psychologist, is Account Manager and Head of Kids & Family Research at the Cologne market research institute rheingold. She researches in the areas of women, society / culture / trends and pharmaceuticals / health and has been successfully working for rheingold since 1999. Tel .: +49 221-912 777-14 E-Mail: