Belmont University Research Symposium (BURS)

Assessing the Prevalence of Health Anxiety Among University Students Post COVID-19

Publication Date

Winter 12-11-2022


Health Sciences & Nursing, Gordon E. Inman College of


Public Health, Department of

BURS Faculty Advisor

Christian Williams

Presentation Type

Poster Presentation


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.


1. Tyrer, P., & Tyrer, H. (2018). Health anxiety: Detection and treatment. BJPsych Advances, 24(1), 66-72.

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, .

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.

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