Researchers focus on managing health anxiety | UniSC | University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Researchers focus on managing health anxiety

University of the Sunshine Coast researchers are seeking survey participants to help shed light on the different ways people think about their health.

USC Psychology Honours student Steven Love is researching responses to thinking about health in order to better understand how to manage health anxiety.
He said there was a broad range of thought patterns and emotions associated with health-related issues.

“Some people barely give their health a second thought, while others consider their health in most of their daily actions,” Steven said.

“We also know there is a large population who have many concerns about their health, and that this can take quite a toll on their lives.”

Steven is seeking participants to take part in a brief online survey that will focus on metacognition – the way people perceive aspects of their own thoughts – and how it influences the ability to effectively regulate emotions.

“By looking at these relationships we can identify behaviours that are either benefiting or inhibiting an individual’s wellbeing, and determine if metacognitive interventions are an effective way to initiate change,” he said.

The anonymous survey is open to participants of all ages, health conditions and levels of health anxiety – from those who rarely think about their health to those who spend hours Googling symptoms.

USC Lecturer in Psychology Dr Rachael Sharman, who is supervising the research, said that while the relationship between thoughts and emotions is well known, current interventions to help people who suffer from health anxiety have been surprisingly ineffective.

“We hope this study might shed some light on the way people think about their health and manage their emotions around health-related issues, and whether that helps or indeed hinders their wellbeing,” Dr Sharman said.

For more information, contact Steven Love at

— Jarna Baudinette

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