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The Effects of Safety Behaviors on Health Anxiety: Conceptualizing Hypochondriasis as an Anxiety Disorder

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dc.contributor.author Etzel, Erin N.
dc.date.accessioned 2009-04-12T12:05:21Z
dc.date.available 2009-04-12T12:05:21Z
dc.date.issued 2009-04-12T12:05:21Z
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/1803/2702
dc.description.abstract Research in the anxiety disorders has shown that safety behaviors function to maintain pathological anxiety by preventing the disconfirmation of inaccurate threat beliefs. The present study examined if such safety behaviors might also contribute to the development and exacerbation of symptoms of health anxiety. The present study tested this notion in a sample of students that were randomized to a safety-behavior (n = 30) or a control (n = 30) condition. After a week-long baseline period, participants in the safety-behavior condition spent 1 week engaging in a clinically representative array of health-related safety behaviors on a daily basis, followed by a second baseline period. Participants in the control condition were instructed to monitor their normal use of safety behaviors. Subsequent to the manipulation, participants in the safety behavior manipulation evidenced statistically significant increases in health anxiety, contamination fear, disgust sensitivity, and cognitive and avoidant responses to three health-related behavioral avoidance tasks compared to those in the control condition. However, anxiety and depressive symptoms remained stable and did not differ between the two groups. These findings suggest that health-related safety behaviors may cause an increase in health anxiety and related processes. The implications of these findings for a cognitive-behavioral model of hypochondriasis are discussed. en
dc.description.sponsorship Thesis completed in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the Honors Program in Psychological Sciences en
dc.language.iso en_US en
dc.publisher Vanderbilt University
dc.subject Anxiety disorders en
dc.subject Hypochondriasis en
dc.subject.lcsh Hypochondria en
dc.subject.lcsh Health behavior en
dc.subject.lcsh Anxiety en
dc.title The Effects of Safety Behaviors on Health Anxiety: Conceptualizing Hypochondriasis as an Anxiety Disorder en
dc.title.alternative Safety behaviors and hypochondriasis en
dc.type Thesis en


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