Overstimulation and its consequences as a new challenge for global healthcare in a socioeconomic context

Monika Bąk-Sosnowska, Tomasz Holecki


Introduction: The dynamic development of new technologies, common access to the Internet, and globalisation allow for a source of physical and symbolic stimuli of unprecedented amounts. These stimuli lie at the bottom of objective and persistent overstimulation leading to sensory or information overload.

Materials and methods: This article is based on a review of the literature and statistical data related to the problem of chronic diseases in a socioeconomic context.

Results: Overstimulation constitutes the core area of research of this article. There is no doubt that information overstimulation leads to information stress manifesting on a physiological, emotional, psychical and behavioural level. Progression to chronic conditions leads globally to increased incidence of mental disorders and severe somatic diseases.

Conclusions: Since the range and rate of the transformation of civilisation accelerates, it should be envisaged that mental and somatic disorders underlain by information stress will take up a continuously increasing share of healthcare expenditures. This should call for the need for further medical specialisation in the field of treating the symptoms of diseases of affluence and primarily the need for preventive healthcare focused on balancing the excess stimuli. Success lies in their effective filtering and management. It seems therefore that the issue of overstimulation, including in particular information overstimulation, is one of the key challenges for public health in the near future.


health care costs; sensory overload; information stress; civilization diseases; mental health

Full Text:



Global Health Estimates 2016: deaths by cause, age, sex, by country and by region, 2000–2016. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2018.

Roth GA, Johnson C, Abajobir A, Abd-Allah F, Abera SF, Abyu G, et al. Global, regional, and national burden of cardiovascular diseases for 10 causes, 1990 to 2015. J Am Coll Cardiol 2017;70(1):1-25. doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2017.04.052.

Global Burden of Disease Collaborative Network. Global Burden of Disease Study 2016 (GBD 2016). Disability-adjusted life years and healthy life expectancy 1990–2016. Seattle: Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME); 2017.

Brådvik L. Suicide risk and mental disorders. Int J Environ Res Public Health 2018;15(9):2028. doi: 10.3390/ijerph15092028.

Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS, Ramasamy J. Depression. A global public health priority. Biol Med (Aligarh) 2017;9(4):1000e127. doi: 10.4172/0974-8369.1000e127.

Chapman DP, Perry GS, Strine TW. The vital link between chronic disease and depressive disorders. Prev Chronic Dis 2005;2(1):A14.

OECD/European Union. Health at a glance: Europe 2018. https://www.oecd.org/health-at-a-glance-europe-2018 (20.12.2018).

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Projections of National Expenditures for Treatment of Mental and Substance Use Disorders, 2010–2020. HHS Publication No. SMA-14-4883. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. https://store.samhsa.gov/system/files/sma14-4883.pdf (20.12.2014).

World Health Organization Risks to mental health: an overview of vulnerabilities and risk factors. Genewa. https://www.who.int/mental-health/mhgap/risk-to-mental-health-EN (20.12.2012).

Acevedo B, Aron E, Pospos S, Jessen D. The functional highly sensitive brain: a review of the brain circuits underlying sensory processing sensitivity and seemingly related disorders. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci 2018;373(1744):20170161. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2017.0161.

Scheydt S, Müller Staub M, Frauenfelder F, Nielsen GH, Behrens J, Needham I. Sensory overload: a concept analysis. Int J Ment Health Nurs 2017;26(2):110-20. doi: 10.1111/inm.12303.

Scheydt S, Needham I. Mögliche Kennzeichen der Reizüberflutung: eine Literaturübersicht. Psychiatr Prax 2017;44(3):128-33. doi: 10.1055/s-0042-118988.

Hall A, Walton G. Information overload within the health care system: a literature review. Health Info Libr J 2004;21(2):102-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1471--1842.2004.00506.x.

Dying for Information? An investigation into the effects of information overload in the UK and worldwide. London: Reuters Business Information; 1996.

Tan SY, Yip A. Hans Selye (1907–1982): Founder of the stress theory. Singapore Med J 2018;59(4):170-1. doi: 10.11622/smedj.2018043.

Bawden D. Information overload. London: Library Information Technology Centre; 2001.

Goldberger L, Breznitz S, editors. Handbook of stress. Theoretical and cinical aspects. New York: Free Press; 1993. p. 333-41.

Gantz J, Reinsel D. The digital universe decade: are you ready? http://www.emc.com/collateral/analyst-reports/idc-digital-universe-are-you-ready.pdf (20.12.2010).

Hanka R, Fuka K. Information overload and ‘just-in-time’ knowledge. The Electronic Library 2000;18(4):279-84. doi: 10.1108/02640470010346021.

Vlcek P, Bob P, Raboch J. Sensory disturbances, inhibitory deficits, and the P50 wave in schizophrenia. Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat 2014;10:1309-15. doi: 10.2147/NDT.S64219.

Ludwig AM. Sensory overload and psychopathology. Dis Nerv Syst 1975;36:357-60.

Pedersen AF, Bovbjerg DH, Zachariae R. Stress and susceptibility to infectious disease. In: Contrada RJ, Baum A, editors. The handbook of stress science: biology, psychology, and health. New York: Springer; 2011. p. 425-45.

Cohen S, Janicki-Deverts D, Miller GE. Psychological stress and disease. JAMA 2007;298(14):1685-7. doi: 10.1001/jama.298.14.1685.

Schneiderman N, Ironson G, Siegel SD. Stress and health: psychological, behavioral, and biological determinants. Annu Rev Clin Psychol 2005;1:607-28. doi: 10.1146/annurev.clinpsy.1.102803.144141.

Kronenberg G, Schöner J, Nolte C, Heinz A, Endres M, Gertz K. Charting the perfect storm: emerging biological interfaces between stress and stroke. Eur Arch Psychiatry Clin Neurosci 2017;267(6):487-94. doi: 10.1007/s00406-017-0794-x.

O’Donnell MJ, Chin SL, Rangarajan S, Xavier D, Liu L, Zhang H, et al. Global and regional effects of potentially modifiable risk factors associated with acute stroke in 32 countries (INTERSTROKE): a case-control study. Lancet 2016;388(10046):761-75. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(16)30506-2.

Rosengren A, Hawken S, Ounpuu S, Sliwa K, Zubaid M, Almahmeed WA, et al. Association of psychosocial risk factors with risk of acute myocardial infarction in 11119 cases and 13648 controls from 52 countries (the INTER­HEART study): case-control study. Lancet 2004;364(9438):953-62. doi 10.1016/S0140-6736(04)17019-0.

Klerings I, Weinhandl AS, Thaler KJ. Information overload in healthcare: too much of a good thing? Z Evid Fortbild Qual Gesundhwes 2015;109(4--5):285-90. doi: 10.1016/j.zefq.2015.06.005.

Raymond D. Using artificial intelligence to combat information overload in research. IEEE Pulse 2019;10(1):18-21. doi: 10.1109/MPULS.2018.2885843.

Mundluru SN, Werbaneth K, Therkelsen KE, Larson AR, Santini VE. “But doctor, I googled it!”: The “three Rs” of managing patients in the age of information overload. Clin Dermatol 2019;37(1):74-7. doi: 10.1016/j.clindermatol.2018.08.002.

Lee K, Roehrer E, Cummings E. Information overload in consumers of health-related information: a scoping review protocol. JBI Database System Rev Implement Rep 2017;15(10):2457-63. doi: 10.11124/JBISRIR-2016-003287.

The power of prevention: chronic disease. The Public Health Challenge of the 21st Century. Atlanta: National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion; 2009.

DeVol R, Bedroussian A. An unhealthy America: the economic burden of chronic disease, charting a new course to save lives and increase productivity and economic growth. Santa Monica: Milken Institute; 2007.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21164/pomjlifesci.811

Copyright (c) 2022 Tomasz Holecki

License URL: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/pl/