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International Journal of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 23, Issue 5, pp 595–605 | Cite as

The Cyberchondria Severity Scale (CSS): German Validation and Development of a Short Form

  • Antonia Barke
  • Gaby Bleichhardt
  • Winfried Rief
  • Bettina K. Doering
Article

Abstract

Purpose

‘Cyberchondria’ describes a pattern of researching health information online motivated by distress or anxiety about health, which becomes excessive and in turn increases distress. The Cyberchondria Severity Scale (CSS) assesses this construct. The aims of the present study were to validate a German version of the CSS and to propose a short form.

Method

The CSS was translated and posted online. Inclusion criteria were fulfilled by n = 500 participants (age 29.1 ± 10.4 years, 73.6 % women). Item analyses, an exploratory factor analysis and correlations with health anxiety, somatic symptoms, health-care utilization and depression were calculated. A brief version with 15 items was developed (CSS-15) and validated in a second sample (n = 292; age 24.2 ± 4.1 years, 76.4 % women).

Results

The internal consistency of the CSS was α = .93 and its split-half reliability α = .95. The mean item-total correlation was r itc = .51, the mean inter-item correlation r = .29 and the mean item difficulty p i = .36. The principal component analysis extracted five factors. The CSS score correlated highly with health anxiety and moderately with somatic symptoms and health-care utilization. The CSS-15 still had an internal consistency of α = .82 and the confirmatory factor analysis confirmed the five factors. The correlation coefficients with health-related measures were unaffected.

Conclusion

The German version of the CSS possesses very good psychometric characteristics, which were preserved in a short version. The factorial structure was replicated. The correlations with health anxiety and depression for both scales underscore their validity and clinical relevance.

Keywords

Cyberchondria Questionnaire Validation German Health anxiety Online search 

Notes

Acknowledgments

The authors of this manuscript would like to thank Franziska Jeromin for her help with the translation of the CSS and Louisa Lühn for her support with data acquisition.

Compliance with ethical standards

Funding body agreements and policies

All authors are employed by the Philipps-University Marburg.

Conflict of interest

The authors of this manuscript do not have any actual or potential conflict of interest to disclose.

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Copyright information

© International Society of Behavioral Medicine 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychology, Division of Clinical Psychology and PsychotherapyPhilipps University MarburgMarburgGermany

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