Assessing the Prevalence of Health Anxiety Among University Students Post COVID-19
Health Sciences & Nursing, Gordon E. Inman College of
Public Health, Department of
BURS Faculty Advisor
Health anxiety is an anxiety disorder characterized by a pre-occupation with having or developing a serious, undiagnosed illness.1 The prevalence of health anxiety among college students was on the rise prior to COVID-19. From 1985 to 2017, health anxiety among college students increased from 8.67% to 15.22%.2 The study aimed to examine the prevalence of health-related anxiety among undergraduate students post COVID-19. A mixed-methods cross-sectional study was conducted, surveying undergraduate students at Belmont University. This study assessed health anxiety using the Short Health Anxiety Inventory (SHAI-18). Twenty-eight additional questions were added to the survey to collect demographic, lifestyle, and behavioral information. Approximately 50% of student respondents scored 18+, indicating the presence of health anxiety3 and 10% scored 27+ on the SHAI-18 survey, indicating the presence of severe health anxiety.4 While mean health anxiety scores higher in females and students with pre-existing physical and mental health conditions, there was not a statistically significant relationship between these variables based on chi-square analysis (p<.05). The present findings suggest that health anxiety is one of the many psychological factors influencing daily health behaviors and how a person responds to a viral pandemic. The results of this study demonstrate an immediate need for greater awareness and proper mental health services on university campuses to combat increasing levels of health anxiety.
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2. Kosic, Amanda, Lindholm, Peo, Jarvholm, Kajsa, Hedman-Lagerlof, Erik, & Axelsson, Erland. (2020). Three decades of increase in health anxiety: Systematic review and meta-analysis of birth cohort changes in university student samples from 1985 to 2017. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 71, . https://doi.org/10.1016/j.janxdis.2020.102208
3. Rode, S., Salkovskis, P., Dowd, H., & Hanna, M. (2006). Health anxiety levels in chronic pain clinic attenders. Journal of psychosomatic research, 60(2), 155-161.
4. Alberts, N. M., Hadjistavropoulos, H. D., Jones, S. L., & Sharpe, D. (2013). The Short Health Anxiety Inventory: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of anxiety disorders, 27(1), 68-78.
Christman, Virginia A., "Assessing the Prevalence of Health Anxiety Among University Students Post COVID-19" (2022). Belmont University Research Symposium (BURS). 180.