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J Health Psychol. 2016 Sep;21(9):2008-20. doi: 10.1177/1359105315569620. Epub 2015 Feb 20.

From headache to tumour: An examination of health anxiety, health-related Internet use and 'query escalation'.

Author information

1
University of Manchester, UK karmpaul@gmail.com.
2
University of Manchester, UK.

Abstract

The current study aimed to explore the phenomenon of disease-related 'query escalation' in high/low health anxious Internet users (N = 40). During a 15-minute health-related Internet search, participants rated their anxiety and the perceived seriousness of information on each page. Post-search interviews determined the reasons for, and effects of, escalating queries to consider serious diseases. Both groups were found to be significantly more anxious after escalating queries. The high group was significantly more likely to escalate queries. Evaluating personal relevance of material was the main reason for escalations and moderated anxiety post-escalation. We conclude that searching for online disease information can increase anxiety, particularly for people worried about their health.

KEYWORDS:

Internet; diagnosis; e-Health; health anxiety; hypochondriasis

PMID:
25706333
DOI:
10.1177/1359105315569620
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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