Prevalence and service implications of health anxiety in genitourinary medicine clinics.
Seivewright H., Salkovskis P., Green J., Mullan N., Behr G., Carlin E., Young S., Goldmeier D., Tyrer P.
A comparison of the prevalence of health anxiety in genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinics in two UK centres was carried out using a new rating scale, the Health Anxiety Inventory (HAI). The relationship of health anxiety to demographic and clinical variables, and its impact on service contacts, was also examined in one of these centres. 694 patients were assessed and significant health anxiety was identified in 8-11%. HAI scores were stable over time and high levels persisted in the absence of treatment. Attenders with sexually transmitted infections had significantly lower levels of health anxiety than those with other conditions. Contacts with clinic doctors and health advisors in the nine months before and after assessment were significantly greater in those with high health anxiety, with doctor appointments 37% higher in the high HAI group (P = 0.005). Health anxiety is a source of considerable morbidity in GUM clinics deserving further study.