Background: Regarding the COVID-19 epidemic and the resulting health anxiety among people which causes the unreasonable referring to healthcare centers, current study aims to assess health anxiety in persons referring to healthcare centers of arak.
Methods: this cross-sectional study examined the health anxiety related to COVID-19 in people going to urban healthcare centers of Arak in 2020. Participants were selected by quota sampling method from 16 urban healthcare centers of Arak. Salkowski 18-item Health Anxiety Inventory (HAI-18) was completed by 392 people. Collected information was entered in SPSS 24 and was analyzed by Mann-Whitney U and Kruskal-Wallis tests.
Results: total mean ± standard deviation score of health anxiety was 28.96 ± 7.62. Most people, i.e. 293 people (74.7%) had medium anxiety and 75 people (19.1%) had high anxiety. Health anxiety level was higher in the 30-59 age range, single people, and students. People with preliminary education levels had lower health anxiety. People with chronic diseases and symptoms of cold, and people who came to healthcare centers due to COVID-19 screening had a higher anxiety level. Having a child in the family increased health anxiety more than having elderly and disabled people in the family.
Conclusions: health anxiety was higher in the 30-59 age range, people with chronic diseases, people with symptoms of cold, and in case of having a child in the family. During the current crisis, diagnosing people prone to psychological disorders from different demographic groups is vital to use psychological techniques and interventions appropriate for each demographic group.