Health anxiety and Internet use: A thematic analysis

Abstract

The current study aimed to obtain health anxious students’ perspectives on their reasons for using the Internet to obtain health information, and the nature and effects of such usage. Data were gathered using semi-structured interviews with 20 postgraduate and undergraduate students identified as highly health anxious, and were examined using thematic analysis. Results suggested that themes were organized by different stages of the search process. Reasons for searching included curiosity, anxiety/worry about undiagnosed symptoms, and remedy-seeking. Both positive (e.g. reassurance) and negative (e.g. uncertainty) outcomes were reported. Findings from the current study suggest that the Internet constitutes an important resource for obtaining health information by health anxious individuals, with the potential to both reduce and exacerbate health anxiety.

Bibliographic citation

Singh, K., Fox, J. R., & Brown, R. J. (2016). Health anxiety and Internet use: A thematic analysis. Cyberpsychology: Journal of Psychosocial Research on Cyberspace, 10(2), article 4. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.5817/CP2016-2-4

Keywords

Hypochondria; cyberchondria; qualitative; internet; health anxiety

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https://doi.org/10.5817/CP2016-2-4