(HealthDay News) – In a vicious cycle, those who have trouble handling uncertainty turn to the Internet to search for medical information which in turn leads to greater health anxiety (“cyberchondria”), according to a study published online Aug. 31 in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking.
Thomas A. Fergus, PhD, from Baylor University in Waco, TX, surveyed 512 medically healthy community adults to understand the effect of intolerance of uncertainty (IU) on the relationship between the frequency of Internet searches for medical information and health anxiety.
Fergus found that IU had a moderating effect. As IU increased, the relationship between the frequency of Internet searches for medical information and health anxiety grew increasingly stronger. General distress did not explain the moderating effect of IU.
“These results suggest that IU is important for better understanding the exacerbation of health anxiety in response to Internet searches for medical information,” the authors write.