Background and Objectives
Global pandemics, including COVID-19, have a significant effect on mental health, and this may be especially true for individuals with health anxiety. Although health anxiety is related to both pandemic-related fears and perceptions of health risks, there is a paucity of research on individual difference variables that might exert an influence on these relationships. The present study examined intolerance of uncertainty (IU) as a potential moderator of the relationship between health anxiety and COVID-related stress, and the relationship between health anxiety and perceived risk of contracting COVID.
Design and Methods
A nationally representative sample of North American adults (N = 204) completed self-report measures of health anxiety, IU, COVID-related stress, and perceived risk of contracting COVID.
Prospective IU moderated the positive relationship between health anxiety and COVID-related stress, as the relationship was strengthened at average and higher levels of prospective IU. Neither IU subscale moderated the relationship between health anxiety and perceived risk.
These results suggest that individuals with elevated health anxiety and high prospective IU may be at higher risk of experiencing COVID-related stress, illuminating the interplay of risk factors that place anxious populations at an increased risk of experiencing stress during acute health risks.