Thoroughly modern worries: the relationship of worries about modernity to reported symptoms, health, and medical care utilization

Petrie, Keith J., Sivertsen, Borge, Hysing, Mari, Broadbent, Elizabeth, Moss-Morris, Rona, Eriksen, Hege R. and Ursin, Holger (2001) Thoroughly modern worries: the relationship of worries about modernity to reported symptoms, health, and medical care utilization. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 51, (1), 395-401. (doi:10.1016/S0022-3999(01)00219-7).


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Objective: There is now greater public concern about how features of modern life pose threats to personal health. In two studies, we investigated the relationship between individuals' worries about modernity affecting health to symptom reports, perceptions of health and health care utilization.

Methods: In the first study, 526 University students completed a questionnaire measuring modern health worries (MHW), symptom reports and health perceptions. A second study utilized an existing national survey database of 7869 New Zealanders. Part of the survey examined people's concerns of modernity affecting their health in the past 12 months, as well as the use of conventional medical and alternative health care.
Results: We found concerns about modernity affecting health were made up of four major components: environmental pollution, toxic interventions, tainted food and radiation. MHW were significantly associated with somatic complaints and ratings of the importance of health to the individual. We also found individuals with high levels of MHW had a higher rate of food intolerance and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). In the second study, we found MHW to be associated with medical care utilization, particularly of alternative health practitioners.

Conclusions: The results of these studies suggest concerns about modernity do cause changes in the way individuals interpret somatic information and may play a role in undermining perceptions of health. The area of MHW is worthy of study and may hold importance for understanding aspects of functional disorders.

Item Type: Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): doi:10.1016/S0022-3999(01)00219-7
ISSNs: 0022-3999 (print)
Related URLs:
Keywords: modernity, attitude toward health, symptoms, health care utilization, alternative medicine
Subjects: T Technology > TD Environmental technology. Sanitary engineering
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions : University Structure - Pre August 2011 > School of Psychology > Division of Human Wellbeing
ePrint ID: 50577
Accepted Date and Publication Date:
July 2001Published
Date Deposited: 06 Mar 2008
Last Modified: 31 Mar 2016 12:28

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