[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The aim of this study was to test the interpersonal model of hypochondriasis proposed by Stuart and Noyes. According to this model, hypochondriasis is associated with insecure attachment that in adults gives rise to abnormal care-seeking behavior. Such behavior is associated with interpersonal difficulties and strained patient-physician relationships.
One hundred sixty-two patients attending a general medicine clinic were interviewed and asked to complete self-report measures. Instruments included the Whiteley Index of Hypochondriasis, Somatic Symptom Inventory, Relationship Scales Questionnaire, Inventory of Interpersonal Problems, NEO Five-Factor Index, and measures of physician-patient interaction. The Structured Diagnostic Interview for DSM-III-R Hypochondriasis was also administered.
Hypochondriacal and somatic symptoms were positively correlated with all of the insecure attachment styles, especially the fearful style. These same symptoms were positively correlated with self-reported interpersonal problems and negatively correlated with patient ratings of satisfaction with, and reassurance from, medical care. Hypochondriacal and somatic symptoms were also positively correlated with neuroticism.
The findings indicate that hypochondriacal patients are insecurely attached and have interpersonal problems that extend to and include the patient-physician relationship. These data support the proposed interpersonal model of hypochondriasis.
Psychosomatic Medicine 01/2003; 65(2):292-300. · 4.08 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Although fear of death has been linked to hypochondriasis, the relationship of this fear to the disorder has received little study. To address this deficiency, we administered a fear of death scale along with measures of hypochondriasis, including the Whiteley Index and Somatic Symptom Inventory, to 162 general medical outpatients. Partial correlations, controlling for age, between the fear of death scale and both the Whiteley Index and Somatic Symptom Inventory were strongly positive. A factor analysis of the fear of death scale yielded three dimensions-fear of dying, loss of meaning, and fear of separation-that were also highly correlated with hypochondriasis. Fear of death and hypochondriasis showed comparable relationships to age and gender as well as to personality dimensions measured by the NEO Five-Factor Inventory. Fear of death appears to be an integral part of hypochondriasis. Its presence lends support to three models of hypochondriasis-the perceptual, existential, and interpersonal-that correspond to the dimensions of fear of death.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: According to the interpersonal model of hypochondriasis, early environmental adversity may give rise to attachment insecurity that finds adult expression in care-seeking behavior. To identify antecedents of this disturbance, we interviewed general medicine patients and obtained from them self-reports of traumatic events, adverse circumstances, and symptoms experienced in childhood. Patients who met DSM-III-R criteria for hypochondriasis more often reported traumatic events and circumstances, including serious illness or injury. Among all patients, the level of hypochondriacal symptoms in adulthood was correlated with poor health, hypochondriacal worry, and separation anxiety in childhood. These findings are consistent with a growing literature that links childhood adversity to adult hypochondriasis; they support the interpersonal model.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To examine the nature and extent of personality dysfunction related to somatization, the authors administered the Structured Interview for DSM-IV Personality and the NEO Five-Factor Inventory to a series of somatizing and nonsomatizing patients in a general medicine clinic. A greater percentage of somatizers met criteria for one or more DSM-IV personality disorders, especially obsessive-compulsive disorder, than did control patients. Somatizers also differed from control patients with respect to self-defeating, depressive, and negativistic personality traits and scored higher on the dimension of neuroticism and lower on the dimension of agreeableness. In addition, initial and facultative somatizers showed more personality pathology than true somatizers. These findings suggest that certain personality disorders and traits contribute to somatization by way of increased symptom reporting and care-seeking behavior.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The purpose of this investigation was to learn how patients with hypochondriasis view their physicians and medical care.
To accomplish this, we identified 20 patients with DSM-III-R hypochondriasis and 26 nonhypochondriacal patients from a general medicine clinic. Using a semistructured interview, we obtained information from patients about their recent health problems and medical care. The investigators then reviewed transcribed interviews and assigned comments to a series of categories.
Hypochondriacal and non-hypochondriacal patients made equal numbers of positive comments, but hypochondriacal patients made significantly more negative comments about physicians' professional characteristics, characteristics of the patients themselves and total negative comments. Many viewed physicians they had seen as unskilled and uncaring. They indicated that, in many instances, their relationships with physicians had suffered from poor communication and collaboration.
Since successful management of patients with hypochondriasis rests upon positive relationships, ways must be found to improve the frustrating and costly situation that currently exists.
The International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine 02/2000; 30(4):329-42. · 1.15 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Although the pharmacologic treatment of somatoform disorders has scarcely been investigated, there is reason to believe that antidepressants might be useful. We examined the response of 29 patients with somatoform disorders from a general medicine clinic to a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, fluvoxamine. The drug was administered in doses of up to 300 mg daily for 8 weeks. Sixty-one percent of the patients who took medication for at least 2 weeks were at least moderately improved. In addition to antidepressant effects, fluvoxamine had other beneficial effects and was well-tolerated. The benefits of drug therapy were modest but appear to warrant a placebo-controlled trial.
General Hospital Psychiatry 12/1998; 20(6):339-44. · 2.98 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To examine the diagnostic validity of hypochondriasis, we undertook a preliminary family study. Nineteen probands with and 24 without DSM-III-R hypochondriasis were identified among outpatients attending a general medicine clinic. Seventy-two first-degree relatives of hypochondriasis probands and 97 relatives of control probands were personally interviewed with the use of the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV. These relatives also completed self-administered measures of hypochondriasis, psychological and somatic symptoms, and personality traits. No increase in the rate of hypochondriasis was found among the relatives of hypochondriasis probands compared with the relatives of control probands. With respect to other mental disorders, only somatization disorder was more frequent among the hypochondriacal relatives. These relatives also scored higher on measures of hostility, antagonism, and dissatisfaction with medical care. The findings of this study suggest that hypochondriasis may not be an independent disorder but a variable feature of other psychopathology, one that may include somatization disorder.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Because relatively little is known about illness fears, we sought to estimate the prevalence, risk factors, and morbidity associated with such fears in the community.
We conducted a brief telephone survey of persons aged 40 to 65 years from randomly selected households in the Johnson County, Iowa, area. Respondents were asked whether a series of illness and medical care items made them no more nervous, somewhat more nervous, or much more nervous than other people. Those who reported more discomfort were asked to what extent this interfered with medical care or caused impairment or distress. Information about demographic and health characteristics was also obtained.
Five hundred persons, 62% of those contacted, responded to the survey. A factor analysis revealed four fear dimensions: illness/injury, medical care, blood/needle, and aging/death. Five percent of respondents reported much more nervousness in relation to at least four of six illness/injury items, 4% indicated that such fears interfered with their medical care, and 5% reported some negative effect on their life. Similarly, 5% of respondents reported much more nervousness in relation to at least two of four medical care items. Illness/injury fears were somewhat more common in persons with lower income and education and in those with medical conditions.
This survey shows that fears of illness and medical care are common in the general population and indicates that lower socioeconomic status and experience with illness are associated with these fears. The findings also suggest that interference with care occurs among those with the strongest fears.
Psychosomatic Medicine 62(3):318-25. · 4.08 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Because few community surveys of hypochondriasis have been completed, little is known about the epidemiology of this disorder outside of clinical populations. To address this deficiency, the authors obtained information about hypochondriasis and pertinent characteristics from a group of first-degree relatives of hypochondriacal and nonhypochondriacal probands who participated in a family study. In addition to psychiatric diagnoses, the authors elicited information on demographic variables, medical history, impairment in functioning, psychiatric comorbidity, psychiatric symptoms, personality traits, and childhood experiences. The authors identified hypochondriasis in 7.7% of the relatives. These relatives had a high rate of comorbid anxiety, depressive, and somatoform disorders. They also reported substantial physical and psychological impairment, including diminished work performance and disability. In addition, these relatives reported greater utilization of health care but less satisfaction with that care. These relatives showed most of the same characteristics found in earlier studies of hypochondriacal patients.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The authors designed an instrument, the Health Attitude Survey, to assess somatization, and administered it to over 1,000 patients attending a general medicine clinic. Within this population, a series of somatizing patients and control patients were identified for purposes of developing and testing the instrument. The 27-item scale was rapidly administered and acceptable to the patients. Based on comparisons with other measures of somatization, the instrument appeared to be a valid measure of the attitudes and perceptions of somatizing patients, and it distinguished these patients from the control subjects. The measure showed acceptable predictive value and may prove useful in clinical settings, where rapid screening is desired.