Health Psychophysiology: Non-specific Health Problems and Health Worries



Type of instruction




Part of degree program


Recommended in

Semester 1-4

Typically offered in

Autumn/Spring semester

Course description

Non-specific health problems are such – for the health-care system straining – dysfunctions, which have no detectable medical background, are not accompanied by any detectable organic failure, do not result in any physiological or laboratory diagnostic changes, thus cannot be identified by medical examination. Still, they cause complaints, affect quality of life, create anxiety and worries. Complains (symptoms) are non-consequent, cannot be clearly identified. Complaints may be of unpleasant character (dizziness, spasms, headaches, etc.) or pleasant (easiness, relaxation, feeling warms), and also indirect (diffuse decrease of productivity, light cognitive disturbances, uncertain emotional states, small motivational decrease). With the lack of medical diagnosis, one frequently due their complaints to environmental factors and some characteristic features of the modern life, such as electromagnetic irradiation of mobile phones or microwave ovens, environmental pollution, gene-manipulated food products or vaccination. This phenomenon has been recently called modern health worries.

The aim of the course is to discuss association and potential cause and effect relationship of health worries and non-specific health problems, to analyse environmental, psycho-social and physiological factors and mechanisms that may play role in generating these problems.

  • Bailer, J., Witthöft, M., & Rist, F. (2008a). Modern health worries and idiopathic environmental intolerance. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 65 (5), 425—433.
  • Filipkowski, K.B., Smyth, J.M., Rutchick, A.M., Santuzzi, A.M., Adya, M., Petrie, K.J., et al. (2010). Do healthy people worry? Modern health worries, subjective health complaints, perceived health, and health care utilization. International Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 17(3), 182—188.
  • Köteles, F., Szemerszky, R., Freyler, A., & Bárdos, Gy. (2011). Somatosensory amplification as a possible source of subjective symptoms behind modern health worries. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 52 (2), 174—178.
  • Petrie, K.J., Sivertsen, B., Hysing, M., Broadbent, E., Moss-Morris, R., Eriksen, H.R., et al. (2001). Thoroughly modern worries: the relationship of worries about modernity to reported symptoms, health and medical care utilization. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 51 (1), 395—401.
  • Petrie, K.J., & Wessely, S. (2002). Modern worries, new technology, and medicine. British Medical Journal, 324(7339), 690—691.