Cyberchondria severity and utilization of health services in Polish society: a cross-sectional study.

Publication date: Mar 27, 2024

It has been suggested that cyberchondria leads to increased utilization of healthcare services. Unfortunately, not many studies have analyzed this effect comprehensively. The aim of this study was to analyze the relationship between cyberchondria severity and the utilization of healthcare services among adult Internet users after adjusting for sociodemographic characteristics and the health status of respondents. The analysis detailed in this paper examined data from a computer-based, web-based interviewing survey performed among a representative sample of 1613 Polish Internet users. Cyberchondria severity was assessed with the Cyberchondria Severity Scale (CSS). The variables reflecting the use of healthcare services were based on the frequency of visits to family physicians and specialists, diagnostic procedures, hospital admissions, and emergency services, and finally being vaccinated against COVID-19. The effect of cyberchondria severity on the utilization of healthcare services and alternative medicine was adjusted for key sociodemographic variables, the presence of chronic diseases, disability, and unspecific symptoms. For variables reflecting the use of services, ordinal logistic regression and multivariable logistic regression models were developed. Cyberchondria severity was a significant predictor of the utilization of all but one of the analyzed healthcare services and alternative medicine. The odds of being in a higher category of the utilization of visits to family physicians and specialists, hospital admissions, emergency services and alternative medicine services increased by a factor of 1. 01-1. 02 for every unit increase of the cyberchondria score. The cyberchondria score was a negative predictor of COVID-19 vaccine uptake. The effect of cyberchondria on outcome variables was independent of the level of health anxiety, sociodemographic variables, and variables reflecting the health status of respondents. Cyberchondria leads to more intensive use of nearly all healthcare services, but in the case of vaccination against COVID-19, cyberchondria severity was a negative predictor. Cyberchondria’s effect extends beyond health anxiety.

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Concepts Keywords
Covid Adult
Cyberchondria Anxiety
Healthcare Chronic disease
Higher COVID-19
Polish COVID-19 vaccination
COVID-19 Vaccines
COVID-19 Vaccines
Cross-Sectional Studies
Health anxiety
Health Services
Health services


Type Source Name
disease VO frequency
disease MESH emergency
disease VO vaccinated
disease MESH COVID-19
disease MESH chronic diseases
disease VO COVID-19 vaccine
disease VO vaccination
pathway REACTOME Reproduction
disease VO vaccine
disease MESH hypochondriasis
disease MESH anxiety disorder
disease MESH emotional distress
disease MESH mental disorders
drug DRUGBANK Esomeprazole
drug DRUGBANK Pentaerythritol tetranitrate
disease VO company
disease VO population
disease VO USA

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