Prevalence and correlates of health anxiety among medical students: a cross-sectional study from the United Arab Emirates

Karim Abdel Aziz, Emmanuel Stip, Afra Al-Sanadi, Alreem Al-Shamsi, Hessah Al-Sharqi, Mariam Eisa Al-Zaabi, Noora Al-Shehhi, Dina Aly El-Gabry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Background: It is often reported that medical students repeatedly develop health anxiety related to the diseases that they are studying. To the best of our knowledge, health anxiety has not been investigated in medical students in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Therefore, we aimed to investigate the prevalence of health anxiety among a sample of medical students attending the United Arab Emirates University (UAEU). We conducted a cross-sectional study of 193 undergraduate medical students (68 males, 125 females) across the 6 years of the College of Medicine at the UAEU. Students were screened for health anxiety using the Short Health Anxiety Inventory (SHAI). Results: Eighteen students (9.3%) reached the threshold for clinically significant health anxiety on the SHAI (score ≥ 27). There was no statistically significant difference between those with and those without health anxiety in age, gender, place of origin, or year of study. There was a statistically significant difference (p < 0.05) between the two groups as regards a past history of medical or mental health conditions influencing their choice of college. No specific student demographic or background characteristics significantly predicted the occurrence of clinically significant health anxiety. Conclusions: Health anxiety was prevalent in a significant proportion of subjects in our sample (almost one in every ten students). Individual experiences of medical and mental illness may play a role in the development of health anxiety and in the choice of studying medicine.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3
JournalMiddle East Current Psychiatry
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023


  • Health anxiety
  • Hypochondriasis
  • Illness anxiety
  • Medical students
  • Medical students’ syndrome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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