Cyberchondria

towards a better understanding of excessive health-related Internet use

Vladan Starcevic*, David Berle

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

102 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Looking for information about symptoms and illnesses on the Internet is common and often serves useful purposes. However, a number of people who are overly distressed or anxious about their health perform excessive or repeated health-related searches on the Internet, only to become more distressed or frightened - a pattern defined here as cyberchondria. This behavior, which can also be construed as a form of reassurance seeking and occurs as a manifestation of health anxiety and hypochondriasis, is the focus of this article. The antecedents of cyberchondria, factors that maintain it and its consequences are examined conceptually and in light of the relatively little research that has been performed so far. Managing cyberchondria poses a challenge, and several approaches as part of the treatment of health anxiety and hypochondriasis are described. The article makes suggestions for further research on cyberchondria.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)205-213
Number of pages9
JournalExpert Review of Neurotherapeutics
Volume13
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2013
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • cyberchondria
  • e-health
  • health anxiety
  • hypochondriasis
  • illness anxiety disorder
  • Internet
  • reassurance seeking

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