COVID-19-related anxiety predicts somatic symptoms in the UK population

Mark Shevlin, Emma Nolan, Marcin Owczarek, Orla McBride, Jamie Murphy, Jilly Gibson Miller, Todd K. Hartman, Liat Levita, Liam Mason, Anton P. Martinez, Ryan McKay, Thomas V. A. Stocks, Kate M. Bennett, Philip Hyland, Richard P. Bentall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study aimed to estimate the association between anxiety associated with COVID-19 and somatic symptoms, using data from a large, representative sample (N = 2,025) of the UK adult population. Results showed that moderate to high levels of anxiety associated with COVID-19 were significantly associated with general somatic symptoms and in particular with gastrointestinal and fatigue symptoms. This pattern of associations remained significant after controlling for generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), pre-existing health problems, age, gender, and income. This is the first evidence that anxiety associated with COVID-19 makes a unique contribution to somatization, above and beyond the effect of GAD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)875-882
Number of pages8
JournalBritish Journal of Health Psychology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2020


  • Anxiety Disorders/epidemiology
  • Anxiety/epidemiology
  • Betacoronavirus
  • COVID-19
  • Coronavirus Infections
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medically Unexplained Symptoms
  • Pandemics
  • Pneumonia, Viral
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • United Kingdom/epidemiology


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