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This article is one of the first to empirically explore the relationship between health anxiety and online health information search. Two studies investigate how health anxiety influences the use of the Internet for health information and how health anxious individuals respond to online health information. An exploratory survey study with 104 Dutch participants indicates that health anxiety is related to an increase in online health information search. Moreover, results suggest that health anxious individuals experience more negative consequences from online health information search. Findings from an experimental study (n=120) indicate that online health information results in greater worries among health anxious individuals compared to nonhealth anxious individuals only if the information stems from a trustworthy governmental Web site. Information from a less trustworthy online forum does not lead to greater worries among health anxious individuals. In sum, the Internet appears to play a pivotal role in the lives of health anxious individuals.
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The Role of Health Anxiety in Online
Health Information Search
Susanne E. Baumgartner, M.A.,
and Tilo Hartmann, Ph.D.
This article is one of the first to empirically explore the relationship between health anxiety and online health
information search. Two studies investigate how health anxiety influences the use of the Internet for health
information and how health anxious individuals respond to online health information. An exploratory survey
study with 104 Dutch participants indicates that health anxiety is related to an increase in online health infor-
mation search. Moreover, results suggest that health anxious individuals experience more negative conse-
quences from online health information search. Findings from an experimental study (n=120) indicate that
online health information results in greater worries among health anxious individuals compared to nonhealth
anxious individuals only if the information stems from a trustworthy governmental Web site. Information from
a less trustworthy online forum does not lead to greater worries among health anxious individuals. In sum, the
Internet appears to play a pivotal role in the lives of health anxious individuals.
The Role of Health Anxiety in Online Health
Information Search
The Internet has become an important source of health
Despite increasing numbers of online
health information seekers,
little is known about their
psychological characteristics. Most studies focused on socio-
demographic determinants of online health information
the expectations, or the health status of
For example, Rice
has shown that medical con-
ditions predict the search for health information online.
However, online health search may be determined not only
by the actual health status of the users but also by their fears of
having a serious illness.
Fear of having or developing a
serious illness is known as health anxiety and, in its extremest
form, hypochondriasis.
Health anxious individuals are
preoccupied with thoughts about illnesses.
This preoc-
cupation is commonly associated with a need to search for
health information.
The Internet may serve as an easy ac-
cessible source to satisfy this need.
This article is one of the first to empirically explore the
relationship between health anxiety and online health infor-
mation search. Eastin and Guinsler found that health anxiety
moderates the relationship between online health informa-
tion seeking and health care utilization decisions.
present studies explore if users’ health anxiety predicts online
health information seeking and the psychological conse-
quences associated with obtained online health information.
Health Anxiety and the Use of Online Health Information
Health anxiety refers to fears that arise from misinterpre-
tations of bodily symptoms as indicating severe illnesses.
To reduce their fears, health anxious individuals tend to
perform safety behaviors.
These behaviors are intended to
reassure the individual of being healthy and include the in-
tensive search for health information.
Alongside checking
physical symptoms or asking a medical expert, health anx-
ious individuals may search the Internet for information re-
lated to their presumed illness. While every Internet user may
search for health information, we assume that the need to
search for online health information is greater among health
anxious individuals. Not only may health anxious individu-
als search for more health information online, but they may
also more actively engage in health-related activities online,
including posting of health-related messages and responses.
Therefore, we pose the following hypotheses:
H1: Health anxiety is related to increased levels of online
health information search
H2: Health anxiety is related to actively posting health-
related information online
Consequences of Online Health Information
for Health Anxious Individuals
If health anxious individuals search the Internet for health
information more frequently than individuals with normal
Amsterdam School of Communication Research, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Department of Communication Science, VU University Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Volume 00, Number 00, 2011
ªMary Ann Liebert, Inc.
DOI: 10.1089/cyber.2010.0425
health beliefs, the question remains as to how online health
information affects health anxious individuals. According to
cognitive-behavioral theory of health anxiety,
health anx-
ious individuals respond differently to health-related infor-
mation compared to nonhealth anxious individuals. Health
anxious individuals misinterpret illness-related information
as more catastrophic and perceive themselves to be at greater
risk for medical complications than nonhealth anxious indi-
They also tend to overestimate the seriousness of
an illness when judging ambiguous health-related scripts.
Health anxiety is further characterized by an inability to be
reassured by physicians
or by information indicating good
These findings have implications for online health infor-
mation search. When confronted with health information,
health anxious individuals may not only pay more attention
to this information but may also be more easily worried.
Further, regardless of what illness they presume to have, they
may find and interpret information online in support of their
anxiety. Therefore, we hypothesize:
H3: Health anxiety is related to more negative responses to
online health information
It may be argued that the effects of online health infor-
mation on health anxious individuals may be moderated by
the credibility of the source. The quality and credibility of
online health information has been criticized in the past.
A majority of online health information has shown to be of
low quality or barely credible.
Source credibility has been
shown to moderate the effect of health information. In gen-
eral, online information from a trustworthy source has a
stronger impact than online information from an untrust-
worthy source.
It has been argued, however, that health anxious individ-
uals struggle to account for the trustworthiness of an online
source when responding to health information.
If this is the
case, health anxious individuals may be equally worried by
online health information from both trustworthy and less
trustworthy sources. Therefore, we propose:
H4: Health anxiety is related to more negative responses to
health information provided by both trustworthy and less
trustworthy sources
More specifically, we expect that under conditions of both
high and low trustworthiness, health anxious individuals will
deem information about a disease more relevant, overesti-
mate the likelihood that they are afflicted, suspect that they
will get the disease in the future, and feel more worried about
the disease.
Study 1
An online survey was conducted to test H1 to H3.
Sample and procedure. To assess the influence of health
anxiety on online health information search in the normal
population, we used a convenience sample of nonclinical
participants. The study was promoted in university classes of
a Dutch university and participants were encouraged to for-
ward the questionnaire to friends and relatives. Participants
ranged from 18 to 30 years of age (M=21.02, SD =2.19). Most
participants were university students (49 percent) or followed
a study in higher professional education (22 percent) or pre-
paratory scientific education (20 percent). Of the final sample
(n=104), 67 percent were females. The majority of partici-
pants (89.5 percent) used the Internet at least 6 days a week.
In sum, the sample consisted of highly educated young adults
with high levels of Internet use.
Measures. Health Anxiety: To measure health anxiety
we used the Whitely Index.
This 14-item scale is the most
widely used self-report inventory of hypochondriacal ten-
Answering categories ranging from 1 (not true at all)
to 4 (absolutely true) were used, instead of the original di-
chotomous answering categories. Health anxieties are pro-
posed to occur along a continuum,
which may be better
reflected by response categories ranging from 1 to 4 than by
dichotomous response categories. The additive scale resulted
in a good Chronbach’s alpha of 0.89. Participants’ scores
ranged from 1.00 to 3.43 (M=1.74, SD =0.55).
Online health information search: Searching for health
information online was measured with the question, ‘‘How
often do you search the Internet for health information con-
cerning your own health?’’ Response categories ranged from
1(never)to9(every day)(M=2.99, SD =1.42).
Posting of health-related information: To assess respon-
dents’ posting of health information via online forums, we
asked participants, ‘‘How often did you post questions or
answers in an online health forum in the last year?’’ with
responses ranging from 1 (never)to5(very often)(M=1.14,
SD =0.51). A total of 9.6 percent of all respondents reported
having posted at least once in online health forums in the last
Consequences of obtaining health-related information: The
perceived consequences of online health information search
were assessed using six statements (true/not true) (adapted
from the Pew Internet & American Life Project
). We asked
participants to indicate how they felt after their last online
health information search: overwhelmed by the amount of
information they found online; confused by the information
they found online; frustrated by a lack of information or an
inability to find what they were looking for online; frightened
by the serious or graphic nature of the information they found
online; relieved or comforted by the information they found
online; reassured that they could make appropriate health
care decisions.
Control variables: Alongside demographic variables, we
included two additional control variables, amount of Internet
use and working in the health sector. Participants indicated
how many days per week they used the Internet. Response
categories ranged from 0 (never)to7(7 days)(M=6.55,
SD =0.90). Participants also indicated how many hours per
day they used the Internet (M=2.54, SD =1.32). Both vari-
ables were multiplied to calculate the number of hours per
week each participant used the Internet (M=16.88, SD =9.42).
Additionally, participants indicated whether or not they
worked in the health sector.
H1 predicted a positive relationship between health anxi-
ety and frequency of online health information search. Like-
wise, H2 stated that health anxiety is related to increased
levels of posting information online. Regression analyses re-
vealed that health anxiety was strongly associated with the
search for health information online (b=1.17, b=0.46,
t(96) =5.05, p<0.01) and the active posting of health-related
information online (b=0.42, b=0.45, t(96) =4.92, p<0.01). In
both regressions we controlled for gender, age, education,
amount of Internet use, and working in the health sector. H1
and H2 were supported.
H3 predicted that health anxiety is related to more negative
responses to online health information. A series of logistic
regressions with the six dichotomous consequence items as
dependent variables were conducted. All control variables
were included in the regression. Health anxiety was most
strongly related to feeling frightened by the seriousness of the
information found online (OR =12.52, 95% CI =3.63–43.23,
p<0.01). Moreover, health anxiety predicted feeling over-
whelmed (OR =6.24, 95% CI =1.91–20.38, p<0.01) and con-
fused (OR =4.04, 95% CI =1.49–10.93, p<0.01) by the amount
of information found online. Finally, health anxiety predicted
feeling frustrated by a lack of information (OR =3.13, 95%
CI =1.09–9.02, p<0.05). No relationship between health anx-
iety and the positive consequences of online health informa-
tion search (feeling relieved or reassured) was found. H3 was
Study 2
To test H4, which stated that health anxiety is related to
negative responses to online health information provided by
both trustworthy and less trustworthy sources, a one-factorial
(trustworthy vs. less trustworthy source) between-subjects
online experiment was conducted.
Sample. Participants were recruited via an online infor-
mation system of a Dutch university. The final sample con-
sisted of 120 participants. About 57 percent of the participants
had obtained their highest degree in higher general continued
education or preparatory scientific education, and about 24
percent in higher professional or scientific university educa-
tion. Participants ranged from 17 to 68 years of age (M=24.17,
SD =8.66), with 65.8 percent females.
Procedure. Initially, participants’ levels of health anxiety
were assessed. Thereafter, participants read an online text
about a fictitious bacterial disease named ‘‘Lienalis.’’ The text
described the case of a Dutch individual who felt tired and
listless, got stomach ache, and was finally diagnosed with
Lienalis. The text continued to provide factual information
about the bacterial disease so that participants learnt that
Lienalis is associated with typical symptoms like stomach
ache, loss of appetite, and changes in frequency of bowel
movements (Appendix).
To manipulate trustworthiness, the text was presented ei-
ther as an official announcement on the Dutch Public Health
Service Web site (trustworthy source) or as a user posting on
a popular Dutch health forum (less trustworthy source). In-
ternet users tend to judge online health announcements from
a knowledgeable expert as most credible.
Health an-
nouncements by official authorities are thus considered par-
ticularly trustworthy.
Participants were randomly assigned
to one of the two conditions. After reading the online
health information, participants were asked about the trust-
worthiness of the online source, and how much they worried
about Lienalis. At the end of the experiment, participants
were debriefed and informed that Lienalis was not a real
Measures. Health Anxiety: As in Study 1, health anxiety
was measured on a 4-point scale with the 14-items of the
Whitely Index (a=0.86; M=1.79, SD =0.52).
Trustworthiness of online health information: To measure
participants’ trust in the online source, we asked them to
indicate their agreement with eight items taken from a
trustworthiness scale.
Participants responded to all items on
a 5-point scale ranging from 1 (do not agree at all)to5(abso-
lutely agree). All items were collapsed into a mean index
(a=0.86; M=3.16, SD =0.65).
Negative responses to online health information: Four
items measured participants’ negative responses to the in-
formation presented online about Lienalis. Participants were
asked to estimate on a 5-point scale the chances that they
were currently suffering from Lienalis (1 (very low chance)to5
(very high chance); M=1.59; SD =0.89) or that they will get
Lienalis in the future (1 (very low chance)to5(very high chance);
M=1.84; SD =0.93). We also asked participants to rate on a 5-
point scale how much they felt worried right now about
Lienalis (1 (not worried at all)to5(very much worried); M=1.9;
SD =0.95) and how relevant they found the information
about the new disease (1 (not relevant at all)to5(very relevant),
M=2.91; SD =0.97).
Treatment check
Confirming a successful manipulation, participants trusted
online health information more when it was presented on the
public health service Web site (M=3.39; SD =0.59) than when
it was presented on the health-related online forum (M=2.9;
SD =0.63; t(118) =4.32; p<0.01).
Hypothesis testing
We tested H4 with four moderated regressions.
The four
variables reflecting participants’ negative responses were re-
gressed in separate hierarchical regressions on health anxiety
(mean-centered) and trustworthiness (contrast-coded) in a
first step, and on an interaction term of both variables in a
second step. Results are displayed in Table 1.
In line with H4, we expected significant simple effects of
health anxiety on the dependent variables under both trust-
worthy and less trustworthy conditions. However, in contrast
to our expectations, results showed that health anxiety in-
creased negative responses to health information obtained
from a trustworthy source, but not from a less trustworthy
source. The regression analyses (Step 1, see Table 1) suggest
that health anxiety is a significant positive predictor of par-
ticipants’ perceived relevance of the information (b=0.36,
t(116) =2.10, p<0.05), estimations of being already infected by
Lienalis (b=0.56, t(116) =3.81, p<0.01), perceived risk of be-
ing infected in the future (b=0.63, t(116) =4.14, p<0.01), and
worrying about Lienalis (b=0.59, t(116) =3.66, p<0.01).
However, in all four regressions, the trustworthiness ·health
anxiety interaction term also emerged as an additional
significant predictor of participants’ negative responses (see
Table 1). This suggests that the trustworthiness of an online
source moderates the influence of health anxiety on negative
responses to online health information.
To examine this moderation more closely we conducted
simple slope analyses. These analyses revealed that health
anxiety led to more negative responses to online health
information obtained from a trustworthy source (relevance:
b=0.70, p<0.01; chance of being already infected: b=0.94,
p<0.01; chance of getting infected: b=1.02, p<0.01; worry
about disease: b=0.99, p<0.01). However, health anxiety
did not lead to more negative responses to online health
information obtained from a less trustworthy source (for all
four negative response variables bp0.19, pq0.39). Figure 1
illustrates this simple slope pattern for participants’ esti-
mated chance of getting infected with Lienalis. The patterns
obtained for the three other negative response variables
were almost identical. Taken together, participants’ health
anxiety resulted in more negative responses to the pre-
sented health information, but only when this information
stemmed from a trustworthy online source. H4 was thus
not supported.
Despite public concerns and speculations concerning the
role of online health information for health anxious individ-
this relationship has rarely been investigated empiri-
cally. We initially fill this research gap by presenting two
studies examining how health anxiety may influence online
health information use and its consequences in a nonclinical
The studies have three main findings. First, health anxiety
was related to an increased use of online health information.
Individuals who showed tendencies toward health anxiety
utilized the Internet as a means to satisfy their health infor-
mation needs. Individuals with higher levels of health anxiety
were also more likely to actively post health-related questions
and responses via online health forums. This finding, how-
ever, awaits replication because only a few participants in our
sample posted information online.
A second finding of this study was that health anxiety was
related to more negative responses toward online health in-
formation. In general, health anxious individuals appeared
more frightened by the seriousness of online information and
less reassured. This may indicate a reinforcing downward
Health anxiety may lead individuals to search the
Internet for reassuring information. However, the informa-
tion they find may provide more reasons to be concerned.
Health-related worries may therefore be maintained rather
than diminished by online health information search. This
finding complements past research and suggests that health
anxious individuals follow a threat-confirming strategy
heightens their responsiveness to alarming information and
makes them relatively immune to reassuring information.
However, the final finding of our studies was that health
anxiety only resulted in more negative responses to online
health information obtained from a trustworthy online
source, and not from a less trustworthy source. This finding
suggests that health anxiety is not triggered by any kind of
online information but only by information stemming from
trustworthy sources. The relationship between trust and
health anxiety in the context of health information search
should be investigated in more detail in future studies. For
instance, which sources are perceived as trustworthy may
differ considerably among individuals as has been shown in
previous research.
Thus, the Web sites health anxious
Table 1. Results of the Hierarchical Regression Analysis of Trustworthiness
of Online Health Information Regarding a New Disease and Health Anxiety on Negative Responses
(Relevance, Chances of Having Disease, Worrying About Disease) (n=120)
Negative responses
Relevance Chance now Chance future Worry
Variable b SE B B SE B b SE B B SE B
Trustworthiness 0.24** 0.09 0.14
0.08 0.13
0.08 0.11 0.08
Health anxiety 0.36* 0.17 0.56** 0.15 0.63** 0.15 0.59** 0.16
Trustworthiness ·health anxiety 0.38* 0.17 0.41** 0.14 0.41** 0.15 0.43** 0.16
Coefficients for trustworthiness and health anxiety were obtained in Step 1 of the regression. Coefficients for the interaction term were
obtained in Step 2 of the regression. Relevance =perceived relevance of presented online information regarding Lienalis (R
Step 1 =0.09**, DR
Step 2 =0.04*), chance now =reported chance of having Lienalis (R
Step 1 =0.13**, DR
Step 2 =0.06**), chance future =reported chance of getting
Lienalis in the future (R
Step 1 =0.14**, DR
Step 2 =0.05**), worry =worrying about Lienalis (R
Step 1 =0.11**, DR
Step 2 =0.06**).
p<0.1. *p<0.05. **p<0.01 (two-tailed).
FIG. 1. Influence of health anxiety and trustworthiness of
online source on participants’ estimated chance of being in-
fected with Lienalis.
individuals perceive as trustworthy may differ among
subgroups of Internet users. Moreover, in the present exper-
iment, participants were not explicitly searching for infor-
mation regarding their health, but instead were confronted
with information about a specific disease. Trust perceptions
may differ when people are concerned with their own health
and are desperately searching for helpful information online.
In that case, people may also judge information from informal
sources as trustworthy and helpful.
The findings must be interpreted within the studies’ limi-
tations. The two studies were conducted with small conve-
nience samples of Internet users. The samples included highly
educated young adults, who are typically characterized as
defining users of the Internet.
We cannot exclude the pos-
sibility that health anxious individuals from other samples
(e.g., older individuals) will use different health information
strategies. However, it may be concluded that health anxious
Internet users use the Internet more to gain health-related
information. Moreover, levels of health anxiety in our studies
were rather mild. Replicating these findings with larger
samples and with individuals with more extreme forms of
health anxiety (e.g., clinical hypochondriasis) would be de-
sirable to further advance this new area of research.
We thank Annemieke Lamers, Steffie Wozniak, Deborah
van Unen, and Jan-Kees Schep for their research assistance.
Author Disclosure Statement
No competing financial interests exist.
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Address correspondence to:
Susanne E. Baumgartner, M.A.
Amsterdam School of Communication Research
University of Amsterdam
Kloveniersburgwal 48
1012 CX Amsterdam
The Netherlands
A New Disease: Lienalis (Stimulus Text About Fictitious
Disease Applied in Study 2 [Translated from Original
Dutch Version])
When Marjolein de Wit (name changed to protect privacy)
woke up in her apartment in Utrecht 3 months ago, she felt
tired, listless, and suffered from stomach pain. ‘‘I’ve been
having an uncomfortable feeling in my stomach for a week,
but that morning I had real pain,’’ said Marjolein. ‘‘Strangely
enough, I could still eat normally during the last week, de-
spite suffering from these pains.’’ At first, Marjolein did not
worry much about the stomach pain. ‘‘I did not think it would
be anything serious and that it was due to stress.’’ That
morning, however, Marjolein discovered traces of blood in
her excrements and decided to see a doctor. This was a good
decision because the doctor diagnosed that Marjolein was
suffering from a recently discovered disease: Lienalis.
This new disease has been discovered recently by the
Dutch Center for Disease Control. In many cases Lienalis is
lethal. Lienalis leads to an intestinal hyperacidity, which in
turn severely decreases the bowel functions.
Further research is still needed to uncover what exactly
causes Lienalis. However, from existing research, it seems
that a typical Western diet—low in fiber and high in animal
fats—may contribute to this disease. Other factors such as
excessive alcohol intake, obesity, and insufficient physical
exercise may also stimulate Lienalis.
Patients who are suffering from Lienalis typically report
the following symptoms:
change in the frequency of passing motion
blood in the excrements
stomach pain
intestinal pain
less appetite
No cure has yet been discovered for Lienalis, but with the
right medication the intestinal hyperacidity can be deceler-
ated. It is strongly advised to consult a physician whenever
two or more of the above-mentioned symptoms are experi-
... So far, several assumptions of this model gained support. Studies reported that cyberchondria is associated with OCD (Fergus & Russell, 2016) and intolerance of uncertainty (Fergus, 2015;Norr et al., 2015) and that source trustworthiness (Baumgartner & Hartmann, 2011) and information overload (Honora et al., 2022;Laato et al., 2020) do play a role in the occurrence of cyberchondria. However, we did not find any studies exploring the role of severity ranking, an occurrence where serious and rare diagnoses appear disproportionately as search results for benign symptoms (White & Horvitz, 2009). ...
... One study demonstrated that reading about symptoms and illnesses was more likely to trigger a distress response than reading about exercise and diet, but only for participants who were intolerant of uncertainty (Norr et al., 2014). Another study indicated that reading about a new disease from a trustworthy online source was more distressing than from an untrustworthy source, but only for participants who were health anxious (Baumgartner & Hartmann, 2011). Finally, a thoughtful study demonstrated that, while all users experienced distress when a search for their own symptom pointed to a serious cause, this escalation in distress was more frequent in health anxious users (Singh & Brown, 2016). ...
... In is important to note that in this study cyberchondria was operationalized as an occurrence of anxiety postsearch and willingness to continue searching, which arises from the reassurance model and is typical in experimental studies and surveys associated with this research stream (Baumgartner & Hartmann, 2011;Norr et al., 2014;Singh & Brown, 2016). In contrast, psychometric research stream operationalizes cyberchondria through questionnaires, mostly Cyberchondria Severity Scale (CSS; McElroy & Shevlin, 2014), and studies it using correlational design. ...
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Cyberchondria is defined as excessive online health research followed by distress. Theoretical models of cyberchondria suggest that it can be influenced by both characteristics of the internet (content, information ranking, amount and quality of information) and individual vulnerability factors (general health anxiety or COVID-19 fear). In order to simultaneously explore the role of both factors, an innovative search engine software (Foogle) was developed and used in the present study that enables manipulation of the presented content and content ranking while also recording users' online behavior. A total of 36 participants with high and 28 participants with low COVID-19 fear searched for the long-term health effects of COVID-19 using Foogle. They were presented with search engine results that rank long-term health effects of COVID-19 from more to less severe or vice versa (randomized). Results revealed that participants who were presented with articles describing more to less severe long-term COVID-19 health effects accessed articles with a higher mean severity index. In general, participants spent more time on articles depicting more severe content. Participants with high COVID-19 fear felt more anxious post-search than those with low COVID-19 fear and expressed a greater wish to continue searching.
... Numerous cross-sectional studies (e.g., Baumgartner & Hartmann, 2011;Doherty-Torstrick et al., 2016) have revealed that anxiety about health is positively associated with the extent of OHIS (frequency and/or duration). However, the direction of causality between the two concepts remains unclear. ...
... On the other hand, people may feel more uncertain or confused about a health issue after reading health information on the Internet. This is because health information from different online sources (e.g., online health communities, government health websites, etc.) might be conflicting (Baumgartner & Hartmann, 2011). In addition, some medical terminologies could be too technical for lay people to comprehend (Chung, 2013). ...
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Cyberchondria describes online health information seeking (OHIS) in an excessive pattern, along with other characteristics, including distress, reassurance, and compulsion. Drawing upon the risk information seeking and processing model and the hybrid model of cyberchondria, this study investigated how health anxiety, information insufficiency, OHIS contributed to cyberchondria over time. We conducted a three-wave panel survey in China (N = 1,271, W1 in June 2021; N = 816, W2 in July 2021; N = 654, W3 in August 2021). Results of a cross-lagged panel model demonstrated that health anxiety at Wave 1 had a cross-lagged effect on information insufficiency at Wave 2. Moreover, information insufficiency at Wave 1 increased OHIS at Wave 2, which further predicted cyberchondria at Wave 3. Health anxiety, information insufficiency, and OHIS were directly and positively related to cyberchondria across the waves, except that information insufficiency at Wave 1 did not predict cyberchondria at Wave 2. This study documented the dynamic and intricate processes underlying the development of cyberchondria, providing both theoretical and practical insights in this nascent research area.
... Mental disorders from 30% to 100% accompany patients with chronic pain [25]. Stress and anxiety are factors that cause pain to become chronic [24,26]. ...
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Aim of the study The purpose of the study is to investigate the cyberchondria attitudes, health anxiety and their correlation with each other in Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS) patients. Subject or material and methods 68 patients diagnosed with FMS according to the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) 2010 diagnostic criteria and 68 healthy individuals with similar sociodemographic characteristics and meeting the study criteria were included in the study. Sociodemographic Data Form, Cyberchondria Severity Scale (CSS), Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire (FIQ), and Health Anxiety Inventory-Short Version (HAI) were administered to all participants. Results The sub-dimensions of the CSS total, distress, excessiveness, reassurance, and mistrust of medical professional and the HAI body sub-dimension and total score of the patient group were found to be significantly higher than the scores of the control group (p<0.001). There is a significant positive correlation between HAI total score and FIQ score (p= 0.018) (r=.285). A positive and significant relationship was found between the CSS-total score and the HAI sub-dimensions and total score (p= 0.002, r=.377). Discussion Our study shows that health anxiety and cyberchondria are high in patients with FMS and that disease severity and health anxiety increase in direct proportion. Due to these results, it may be wise to periodically check the cyberchondria and health anxiety levels of these patients and to include psychiatric view in the treatment of the patients. Conclusions Doctors can refer patients who have health concerns and who have comorbid psychiatric symptoms for psychoeducation, as well as protect patients from uncontrolled anxiety by referring them only to reliable and accurate online sites.
... Research revealed that individuals experiencing a higher level of anxiety considered themselves to be more exposed to disease and devoted more attention to information concerning health in general (Hadjistavropoulos et al., 1998). Studies have also shown a relationship between cyberchondria and health anxiety (Bati et al., 2018;Baumgartner & Hartmann, 2011;McElroy et al., 2019;Starcevic & Berle, 2013). Health anxiety motivates many people to look for information about their health and potential diseases in on-line sources. ...
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Unlabelled: Access to health information can have positive effects in the form of increased health awareness. However, self-diagnosis based on information available on websites can be dangerous, causing distress as an increasing amount of time is spent on searching. The main aim of the study was to determine the role of emotional functioning in the relationship between health anxiety and cyberchondria. The study included N = 615 participants aged 18 to 83 years (M = 43.86, SD = 14.57). The authors used the Cyberchondria Severity Scale, the Short Health Anxiety Inventory, the Life Orientation Test, the Difficulties in Emotion Regulation Scale, and the Kessler 6 Psychological Distress Scale. The results demonstrate that health anxiety is significantly related to cyberchondria and that pessimism and difficulties in emotion regulation act as mediators in this relationship. Supplementary information: The online version contains supplementary material available at 10.1007/s12144-022-04126-3.
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Cyberchondria is excessive seeking for online Q7 health-related information related to increasing health anxiety and distress levels. The current study investigated the mediating role of health-related metacognition, cognitive bias, and emotion dysregulation in the relationship between personality traits and cyberchondria. Participants were 703 individuals 18 + years old who had access to the internet (males = 43.8%, mean age = 33.82 ± 10.09 years and females = 56.2%, mean age = 34.37 ± 11.16 years). They voluntarily completed a questionnaire package that included the Cyberchondria Severity Scale (CSS), The revised NEO Personality Inventory (NEO-PI-R), the Difficulties in Emotion Regulation Scale (DERS), The Meta-Cognitions about Health Questionnaire (MCQ-HA), and The Health Cognitions Questionnaire (HCQ). The initial evaluation of the model demonstrated that the personality traits of openness to experience, agreeableness, and conscientiousness had no significant relationship with other variables in the structural model, and effects of neuroticism and extroversion were the only significant results. Rerunning the model with the removal of non-significant variables revealed a full mediation of health-related metacognition, cognitive bias, and emotion dysregulation in the relation between personality traits (neuroticism and extraversion) and cyberchondria. Fit indices demonstrated the acceptable fit of the model with the collected data ($2 = 979.24, p < 0.001; NFI = 0.92, CFI = 0.93, GFI = 0.90, IFI = 0.93, RMSEA = 0.071, SRMR = 0.063). The results indicated that the present model could explain R2 = 54% of cyberchondria variance. These findings suggest that health-related metacognition, cognitive bias, and emotion dysregulation could demonstrate a full mediating role in the correlation between personality traits and cyberchondria.
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Background The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has significantly impacted every region of the world. During these unprecedented times, individuals have been experiencing severe mental health issues concerning excessive internet usage. Methods This study examined he relationship between addiction to medical websites and behaviors related to Illness Anxiety Disorder among a population of Arabic university students. A sample consisting of N = 368 youths was examined. Results Statistical analysis was conducted in the form of bivariate linear regression, Z score, R2, t-test, ANOVA, mean and standard deviation. Results: The analysis results found a linear equation predicting illness anxiety among youths. The correlation between the addiction to medical websites and hypochondria was found as 0.69. Conclusions Findings supported the notion that addiction to medical websites significantly predicts hypochondria.
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Trypophobia has attracted scientific attention in recent years. Few related studies have recruited participants using online methods, and even less is known about health communication in an environment where trypophobia was first widely discussed (i.e., the Internet). This study describes communication patterns in a Facebook group for trypophobia by detecting frequent topics, top contributors, and their discourses. We identified key commenters and performed word frequency analysis, word co-occurrence analysis, topic modeling, and content analysis. Impactful users posted and replied more often when discussing peer-reviewed science. Triggering content was actively removed by the group administrators. A wide variety of triggers not discussed in trypophobia-related literature were frequently mentioned. However, there was a lack of discussion on peer-reviewed treatments. The combination of a few expert and many supportive amateur gatekeepers willing to understand trypophobia, along with active monitoring by administrators, might contribute to in-group trust and the sharing of peer-reviewed science by top users of the trypophobia Facebook group.
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The Internet in 21 st is the backbone of an inexhaustible source of global information that has revolutionized the communication system, knowledge transmission and education system which brings progress in all fields of endeavour from the creation of new goods, services and ideas for the advancement of knowledge and well-being of society as well. Internet is not just a mere technology, rather a cultural artefact bringing cultures together and aggregates people in more accessible forms, nurturing the rise of new forms of expression for art, innovation and enormous knowledge transmission. The internet has strongly influenced our education system by connecting and empowering students and educators through unbounded possibilities of knowledge sharing and creating new ways of teaching and learning without the restriction of time and physical constraints that captivate and stimulate students' imagination at anytime, anywhere using an internet connected device. The internet can speed up growth, development and offer immense opportunities for strengthening the economy through e-commerce coupled with improved productivity and competitiveness as it has become a major distribution channel for goods and services. Our lives are surrounded by the internet in every aspect and altered the way of interaction with our family, friends and life partners, and the meaning of cultural identity as well. Internet is a formidable resource of building knowledge in which the users are highly sensitized with the security and privacy issues, particularly minors and children despite raising awareness. Though it a huge network of networks, it acts as an easy medium to access pornography in children causing a sexually deviant or sexually-addictive and increase in the prevalence of sexually transmitted diseases (STD). Social media and Short Communication Joshi et al.; CJAST, 41(36): 12-18, 2022; Article no.CJAST.80423 13 the internet have become an inseparable part of the younger generation's lifestyle. The excessive use of Internet had leads to IA Disorder (IAD) resulting negative impact on physical, mental, social and occupational health impairment to people who are exposed and also to vulnerable population by disabling their time control. This paper emphasized on both positive and negative impacts of Internet in our day to day lives; Psychological profile of addicted people; potential risk on emotional, mental and physical health and possible treatment strategies of IAD. Keywords: Internet; application of internet; impact of internet and IAD.
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Many people are now influenced by the information and advice they find on the Internet, much of it of dubious quality. This article describes two studies concerned with those factors capable of influencing people’s response to online advice. The first study is a qualitative account of a group of house-hunters attempting to find worthwhile information online. The second study describes a survey of more than 2,500 people who had actively sought advice over the Internet. A framework for understanding trust in online advice is proposed in which first impressions are distinguished from more detailed evaluations. Good web design can influence the first process, but three key factors—source credibility, personalization, and predictability—are shown to predict whether people actually follow the advice given.
This article explores the role of the Internet in health behaviour, with particular emphasis on the issue of trust and trusting behaviours, as this is seen as key to determining the impact of the Internet on health outcomes. It is organized as follows. The first section discusses the role of the Internet in the context of health information and advice, exploring broader issues such as user motivation and outcomes in terms of perceived health benefits, as well as interactions with healthcare professionals. The article then goes on to examine the types of health websites available, and explores issues of advice and information quality. The following section examines the context of trust in relation to online health advice and information, and presents a staged model of trust that helps reconcile differences in the literature. The last section presents a validation of the staged model through in-depth, longitudinal qualitative work.
This study investigated 3 broad classes of individual-differences variables (job-search motives, competencies, and constraints) as predictors of job-search intensity among 292 unemployed job seekers. Also assessed was the relationship between job-search intensity and reemployment success in a longitudinal context. Results show significant relationships between the predictors employment commitment, financial hardship, job-search self-efficacy, and motivation control and the outcome job-search intensity. Support was not found for a relationship between perceived job-search constraints and job-search intensity. Motivation control was highlighted as the only lagged predictor of job-search intensity over time for those who were continuously unemployed. Job-search intensity predicted Time 2 reemployment status for the sample as a whole, but not reemployment quality for those who found jobs over the study's duration. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
An exploratory study of cancer knowledge in hypochondriacal subjects (n = 27) and matched controls (n = 27) is presented. Both quantity and quality of knowledge were investigated; i.e. whether hypochondriacal subjects were better able to discriminate between cancer warning signs and non-warning signs using the Knowledge of Cancer Warnings Signs Inventory (Berman and Wandersman, 1991). than controls. Also, level of cancer knowl edge in general was measured using the recently developed Cancer Knowledge Questionnaire (CKQ). Differential effects of threatening versus reassuring information were also studied.Results showed that hypochondriacal subjects were more likely to falsely identify non-warning signs as cancer warning signs than control subjects. Groups did not differ in general level of cancer knowledge. High health anxiety subjects agreed with threatening statements more often than non-hypochondriacal subjects. Hypochondriacal subjects' general coping style was characterized by more information seeking and less information avoiding. Implications of these results are discussed.
The attitudinal or behavioral outcomes of media use can be expected to influence selection of and attention to media content. This process can be conceptualized in terms of mutually reinforcing spirals akin to positive feedback loops in general systems theory. This reinforcing spirals perspective highlights the need for longitudinal modeling of mutually influencing media selection and effects processes; study of the impact of such processes in youth and adolescent identity development, and analysis of social and psychological factors that control, dampen, or eventually extinguish the influence of such spirals. This perspective may also, more speculatively, be extended to address the maintenance of social identity for political, religious, and lifestyle groups. The relevance of a reinforcing spirals model to theories including spiral of silence, agenda-setting, framing, cultivation, selective attention, and uses and gratifications is also discussed.