Objectives: The Internet has become one of the most common sources people use to search for health-related information, a behavior rapidly increased during the novel Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The present study aimed to investigate behavioral patterns in the online health-related searches and Cyberchondria (CYB) during the COVID-19 pandemic time, in order to explore socio-demographic and psychopathological factors related to CYB. Methods: During the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in Italy, a cross-sectional online survey collected the main socio-demographic variables and habits related to Internet use of 572 participants. CYB was measured by the Cyberchondria Severity Scale-Short Version and different psychopathological factors were measured by specific questionnaires: the Coronavirus Anxiety Scale, the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale, the Short Health Anxiety Inventory, the Meta-Cognitions about Health Questionnaire, the Internet Addiction Test, the Maudsley Obsessional-Compulsive Questionnaire-Short Version, the Rosenberg’s Self-Esteem Scale, and the WHO Quality of Life-BREF. Descriptives, non-parametric ANOVAs, and Spearman correlations were performed. Results: In the present sample, the Internet was the main source participants used to search for health-related information and nearly one-third increased this habit during the pandemic. Higher expression of CYB emerged in females, in younger participants, in students, and in those suffering from a physical/psychiatric illness. CYB showed a positive correlation with different phenomenology of anxiety (i.e., anxiety about COVID-19, health anxiety, general anxiety, metacognitive believes about anxiety) and with depression, obsessive-compulsive symptoms, and problematic usage of the Internet. Conversely, quality of life and self-esteem showed a negative correlation with CYB. Conclusion: During the COVID-19 pandemic, the use of the Internet for health-related information and CYB contribute to the psychological stress affecting individuals and society. Delineating subjects more vulnerable to CYB and associated psychopathological factors will help to elaborate operational indications for prevention and psychological support.

The Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on Searching for Health-Related Information and Cyberchondria on the General Population in Italy / M. Vismara, D. Vitella, R. Biolcati, F. Ambrosini, V. Pirola, B. Dell'Osso, R. Truzoli. - In: FRONTIERS IN PSYCHIATRY. - ISSN 1664-0640. - 12(2021 Oct 12), pp. 754870.1-754870.13. [10.3389/fpsyt.2021.754870]

The Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on Searching for Health-Related Information and Cyberchondria on the General Population in Italy

M. Vismara
Primo
;
B. Dell'Osso
Penultimo
;
R. Truzoli
Ultimo
2021-10-12

Abstract

Objectives: The Internet has become one of the most common sources people use to search for health-related information, a behavior rapidly increased during the novel Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The present study aimed to investigate behavioral patterns in the online health-related searches and Cyberchondria (CYB) during the COVID-19 pandemic time, in order to explore socio-demographic and psychopathological factors related to CYB. Methods: During the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in Italy, a cross-sectional online survey collected the main socio-demographic variables and habits related to Internet use of 572 participants. CYB was measured by the Cyberchondria Severity Scale-Short Version and different psychopathological factors were measured by specific questionnaires: the Coronavirus Anxiety Scale, the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale, the Short Health Anxiety Inventory, the Meta-Cognitions about Health Questionnaire, the Internet Addiction Test, the Maudsley Obsessional-Compulsive Questionnaire-Short Version, the Rosenberg’s Self-Esteem Scale, and the WHO Quality of Life-BREF. Descriptives, non-parametric ANOVAs, and Spearman correlations were performed. Results: In the present sample, the Internet was the main source participants used to search for health-related information and nearly one-third increased this habit during the pandemic. Higher expression of CYB emerged in females, in younger participants, in students, and in those suffering from a physical/psychiatric illness. CYB showed a positive correlation with different phenomenology of anxiety (i.e., anxiety about COVID-19, health anxiety, general anxiety, metacognitive believes about anxiety) and with depression, obsessive-compulsive symptoms, and problematic usage of the Internet. Conversely, quality of life and self-esteem showed a negative correlation with CYB. Conclusion: During the COVID-19 pandemic, the use of the Internet for health-related information and CYB contribute to the psychological stress affecting individuals and society. Delineating subjects more vulnerable to CYB and associated psychopathological factors will help to elaborate operational indications for prevention and psychological support.
Cyberchondria, online health searches, COVID-19, mental health, health anxiety, digital addiction
Settore M-PSI/08 - Psicologia Clinica
Settore MED/25 - Psichiatria
https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyt.2021.754870/full
Article (author)
File in questo prodotto:
File Dimensione Formato  
fpsyt-12-754870.pdf

accesso aperto

Tipologia: Publisher's version/PDF
Dimensione 281.32 kB
Formato Adobe PDF
281.32 kB Adobe PDF Visualizza/Apri
Pubblicazioni consigliate

Caricamento pubblicazioni consigliate

I documenti in IRIS sono protetti da copyright e tutti i diritti sono riservati, salvo diversa indicazione.

Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/2434/874076
Citazioni
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.pmc??? ND
  • Scopus 4
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.isi??? 3
social impact