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Increase in the prevalence of health anxiety in medical clinics: Possible cyberchondria.

Tyrer, Peter, Cooper, Sylvia, Tyrer, Helen, Wang, Duolao ORCID: and Bassett, Paul (2019) 'Increase in the prevalence of health anxiety in medical clinics: Possible cyberchondria.'. The International Journal of Social Psychiatry, Vol 65, Issue 7-8, pp. 566-569.

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Health anxiety may be an increasing problem because of the focus on monitoring health and increasing use of the Internet for self-diagnosis (cyberchondria). There is very little information about changes in the prevalence of health anxiety.
We compared the prevalence of health anxiety in four medical clinics in one hospital over a 4-year period using the Health Anxiety Inventory (HAI) as a diagnostic marker.
Patients attending cardiology, endocrine, gastroenterology and respiratory medicine clinics at King's Mill Hospital, North Nottinghamshire, completed the HAI while waiting for their appointments. There were eight research assistants involved in collecting data, two in the 2006-2008 period and six in the 2008-2010 period. As a consequence, more data were collected on the second occasion.
There was an increase in the prevalence of health anxiety from 14.9% in 2006-2008 (54 positive of 362 assessed) to 19.9% (1,132 positive out of 5,704 assessed) in 2008-2010. This increase was primarily noted in gastroenterology clinics (increase of 10%) and not shown in endocrine ones.
The prevalence of health anxiety is increasing in those who attend medical out-patient clinics. Reasons are given that this may be a possible result of cyberchondria, as the excessive use of the Internet to interpret troubling symptoms is growing. Further studies are needed in other populations, but there is reason to be concerned at this trend as it is likely to increase the number of medical consultations unnecessarily.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: WM Psychiatry > WM 140 Mental disorders (General)
WM Psychiatry > WM 20 Research (General)
Faculty: Department: Clinical Sciences & International Health > Clinical Sciences Department
Digital Object Identifer (DOI):
Depositing User: Julie Franco
Date Deposited: 07 Aug 2019 13:06
Last Modified: 03 Aug 2020 01:02


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