Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

'Cyberchondria' from online health searches is worse for those who fear the unknown

Date:
October 8, 2013
Source:
Baylor University
Summary:
Turning to the Internet to find out what ails you is common, but for folks who have trouble handling uncertainty, "cyberchondria" -- the online counterpart to hypochondria -- worsens as they seek answers.

Turning to the Internet to find out what ails you is common, but for folks who have trouble handling uncertainty, "cyberchondria" -- the online counterpart to hypochondria -- worsens as they seek answers, according to a Baylor University researcher.

Related Articles


"If I'm someone who doesn't like uncertainty, I may become more anxious, search further, monitor my body more, go to the doctor more frequently -- and the more you search, the more you consider the possibilities," said Thomas Fergus, Ph.D., an assistant professor of psychology and neuroscience in Baylor's College of Arts & Sciences. "If I see a site about traumatic brain injuries and have difficulties tolerating uncertainty, I might be more likely to worry that's the cause of the bump on my head."

His study is published in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking.

As if fearing a catastrophic disease or injury isn't bad enough, doubts about health -- unfounded or not -- can trigger worries about potential medical bills, disability and job loss, he said. And that can lead to even more Googling, obsessing, doctor visits, unnecessary medical testing and distress.

Prior research shows that approximately eight of 10 American adults seek medical information on the Internet.

Fergus sampled 512 healthy adults, with a mean age of 33.4 years. Fifty-five percent were women, 59 percent had at least a two-year degree, 53 percent worked at least 20 hours weekly, and 67 percent were unmarried.

He used several measures, among them a scale in which people assessed such statements as "I always want to know what the future has in store for me"; a health anxiety inventory, in which -- regardless of their actual health -- they responded to such statements as "I spend most of my time worrying about my health"; and a scale assessing how searches for online health information affected respondents' anxiety.

While fearing the worst when it comes to health is not new, the online glut of medical information -- some of it from questionable sources -- may be more disturbing than that contained in medical manuals that people consult or obtain directly from a doctor, Fergus said.

"When you look at a medical book, you might not see all the possibilities at once, but online you're presented with so many," he said.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Baylor University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Thomas A. Fergus. Cyberchondria and Intolerance of Uncertainty: Examining When Individuals Experience Health Anxiety in Response to Internet Searches for Medical Information. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 2013; 130831101057006 DOI: 10.1089/cyber.2012.0671

Cite This Page:

Baylor University. "'Cyberchondria' from online health searches is worse for those who fear the unknown." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 October 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131008122904.htm>.
Baylor University. (2013, October 8). 'Cyberchondria' from online health searches is worse for those who fear the unknown. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 5, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131008122904.htm
Baylor University. "'Cyberchondria' from online health searches is worse for those who fear the unknown." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131008122904.htm (accessed March 5, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Bupa Eyes India Healthcare Opportunities

Bupa Eyes India Healthcare Opportunities

Reuters - Business Video Online (Mar. 5, 2015) — Bupa is hoping to expand in India&apos;s fast-growing health insurance market, once a rule change on foreign investment is implemented. The British private healthcare group&apos;s CEO tells Grace Pascoe why it&apos;s so keen on the new opportunity. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctor in Your Pocket Is Getting Smarter

Doctor in Your Pocket Is Getting Smarter

Reuters - Business Video Online (Mar. 5, 2015) — Mobile apps are turning smartphones into a personal doctors, with users able to measure heart rate, blood pressure and even blood sugar. But will it change our behaviour? Ivor Bennett reports from the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
AbbVie Inks $21B Deal To Buy Cancer Drugmaker Pharmacyclics

AbbVie Inks $21B Deal To Buy Cancer Drugmaker Pharmacyclics

Newsy (Mar. 5, 2015) — AbbVie announced Wednesday it will buy cancer drugmaker Pharmacyclics in a $21 billion deal. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Adults Only Get The Flu Twice A Decade, Researchers Say

Adults Only Get The Flu Twice A Decade, Researchers Say

Newsy (Mar. 4, 2015) — Researchers found adults only get the flu about once every five years. Scientists analyzed how a person&apos;s immunity builds up over time as well. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins