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