CYBERCHONDRIA: ROLE OF POTENTIAL RISK FACTORS
Main Article Content
OBJECTIVES: To investigate the relationship between intolerance of uncertainty and cyberchondria and to find out the mediating role of anxiety sensitivity in this relationship.
METHODS: This cross-sectional study was conducted from September 2021 to January 2022 at Bahauddin Zakariyya University, Multan, Pakistan. Participants ranging in age from 18 to 55 years were selected through purposive sampling techniques from different cities of Southern Punjab. Participants who actively use social mediums for online information-seeking of disease-related symptoms were included in the study and participants who confirmed having a physical or psychological health condition were excluded. Cyberchondria, anxiety sensitivity index-3, and intolerance of uncertainty scale were used for measurement. The data were analyzed using structural equation modelling.
RESULTS: Out of 413 participants, 148 (42%) were males and 265 (64.2%) were females. Majority (n=188/413; 45.6%) spent >5 hours on net. Main symptoms searched on internet were psychological (n=61; 14.8%), Physiological (n=175; 42.4%) and both (n=177; 42.8%). Correlation metrics showed that intolerance of uncertainty has a moderate positive correlation with anxiety sensitivity (r=0.59) and cyberchondria (r =-0.41). Similarly, anxiety sensitivity is also positively correlated with cyberchondria (r=0.38). Results further revealed that intolerance of uncertainty has a significant impact on cyberchondria (β=0.48, R2=0.30). Anxiety sensitivity significantly mediates the relationship between intolerance of uncertainty and cyberchondria among the general population (β=0.64, R2=0.41) (β=0.25, R2=0.26).
CONCLUSION: A significant positive relation exists between intolerance of uncertainty, cyberchondria, and anxiety sensitivity. Intolerance of uncertainty significantly impacts cyberchondria. Anxiety sensitivity significantly mediates the relationship between intolerance of uncertainty and cyberchondria.
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