Anxiety as a predictor of improvements in somatic symptoms and health anxiety associated with cognitive-behavioral intervention in hypochondriasis

Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, 03/15/2011

Nakaoa M et al. – High anxiety at entry into the CBT program predicted a better treatment outcome.

Methods

  • Total of 182 hypochondriacal participants (139 women, mean = 42.1 years of age) ramdomly assigned to CBT or control group
  • Participants completed self-report measures of hypochondriasis that exceeded predetermined threshold on 2 successive occasions
  • CBT consisted of 6, weekly 90-min sessions
  • Control subjects received usual medical care during same period
  • Questionnaires (Whiteley Index, Health Anxiety Inventory, and Somatic Symptom Inventory) used to assess hypochondriacal symptoms,
  • Symptom Checklist 90R used to assess anxiety and other psychological symptoms
  • Administered before intervention and at 6 and 12 months after completion of intervention

Results

  • Scores on 3 measures of hypochondriasis significantly decreased after treatment in CBT compared with control group
  • Anxiety and other psychological symptoms also showed significant reductions in CBT group
  • High levels of pretreatment anxiety predicted decreases in 3 hypochondriasis scores after controlling for effects of depression, age, sex, educational level, employment status, and marital status

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