- The role of health anxiety in online health information search
- Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking
- Volume | Issue number
- 14 | 10
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Amsterdam School of Communication Research (ASCoR)
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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