The purpose of the current study is to examine the effects of health-related internet use on
affect, health anxiety and symptom severity in individuals with pathological levels of health
anxiety. The present randomized controlled study compares an online medical searching
condition with a waiting (i.e. non-searching) condition to manipulate the attentional focus.
After an induction of health anxiety using the Autobiographical Emotional Memory Task the
participants in the searching condition go online and search for subjectively relevant health
information (external focus of attention). Individuals in the waiting (i.e. non-searching)
condition are requested to do nothing and not to distract themselves (internal focus of