Problematic Internet Usage and Immune Function.
Bottom Line: The results demonstrated that around 30% of the sample displayed mild or worse levels of internet addiction, as measured by the IAT.Internet addiction was also associated with reduced self-reported immune function, but not with the measure of general health (GHQ-28).This relationship between problematic internet use and reduced immune function was found to be independent of the impact of the co-morbidities.
Affiliation: Swansea University, Swansea, United Kingdom.
Problematic internet use has been associated with a variety of psychological comorbidities, but it relationship with physical illness has not received the same degree of investigation. The current study surveyed 505 participants online, and asked about their levels of problematic internet usage (Internet Addiction Test), depression and anxiety (Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scales), social isolation (UCLA Loneliness Questionnaire), sleep problems (Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index), and their current health - General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-28), and the Immune Function Questionnaire. The results demonstrated that around 30% of the sample displayed mild or worse levels of internet addiction, as measured by the IAT. Although there were differences in the purposes for which males and females used the internet, there were no differences in terms of levels of problematic usage between genders. The internet problems were strongly related to all of the other psychological variables such as depression, anxiety, social-isolation, and sleep problems. Internet addiction was also associated with reduced self-reported immune function, but not with the measure of general health (GHQ-28). This relationship between problematic internet use and reduced immune function was found to be independent of the impact of the co-morbidities. It is suggested that the negative relationship between level of problematic internet use and immune function may be mediated by levels of stress produced by such internet use, and subsequent sympathetic nervous activity, which related to immune-supressants, such as cortisol.
No MeSH data available.
Related in: MedlinePlus
Mentions: To further explore the relationship between internet-related problems (IAT scores) and both general-somatic (GHQ-S) and immune-related (IFQ) health-problems, the sample was split into those scoring below and above the cut-off of 40 for moderate or worse internet-related problems on the IAT . This created two groups: a group with no internet problems (N = 313; mean IAT = 26.89 + 7.89; range = 0–39), and a group with internet-problems (N = 313; mean IAT = 54.14 ± 11.23; range = 40–96). Fig 3 shows the mean general-somatic health (GHQ-S) score (left panel), and the mean immune-related health (IFQ) score. Inspection of the data for the GHQ-S reveals little difference between the low and high IAT groups in terms of their GHQ-S scores. These data were analysed using an analysis of covariance, with internet group as a between-subject factor, and depression, anxiety, sleep problems, loneliness, and hours online as covariates. This analysis revealed no statistically significant difference between the internet problems groups in terms of their GHQ-S scores, F < 1, partial eta2 = .001. In contrast, the right panel of Fig 3 shows that the high internet-problems group had more immune-related health problems than the no-internet-problems group, F(1,498) = 27.79, p < .001, partial eta2 = .046.
No MeSH data available.