Gender differences in health anxiety and musculoskeletal symptoms during the COVID-19 pandemic

J Back Musculoskelet Rehabil. 2021;34(2):161-167. doi: 10.3233/BMR-200301.


Background: Health anxiety is often associated with musculoskeletal symptoms and gender, but there are limited studies that investigate these relationships during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Objective: We aimed to compare the genders regarding health anxiety and musculoskeletal symptoms during the COVID-19 pandemic and to investigate the relationship of musculoskeletal symptoms with physical activity and health anxiety.

Methods: Assessments were performed through an online questionnaire. Eighty-five males and eighty-five females were included by matching genders in terms of age, body mass index, education level, number of days spent at home during the pandemic, and physical activity. The Short Health Anxiety Inventory, the International Physical Activity Questionnaire-Short Form, and the Nordic Musculoskeletal Questionnaire were used to assess health anxiety, physical activity, and musculoskeletal symptoms, respectively.

Results: Females had a higher level of health anxiety and more musculoskeletal symptoms than males (p< 0.05). There were weak to moderate correlations in females and weak correlations in males between musculoskeletal symptoms and health anxiety (p< 0.05). Also, a weak negative correlation was found between physical activity and musculoskeletal symptoms in both genders (p< 0.05).

Conclusions: Females are more anxious and have more musculoskeletal symptoms during the pandemic than males. Also, health anxiety is related to musculoskeletal symptoms in both genders.

Keywords: COVID-19; Pandemic; health anxiety; musculoskeletal pain; musculoskeletal symptoms.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety / epidemiology*
  • COVID-19 / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Pandemics*
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Sex Distribution
  • Sex Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Turkey / epidemiology