Michael Witthöft

Michael Witthöft
Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz | JGU · Department of Clinical Psychology, Psychotherapy, and Experimental Psychopathology

PhD

About

253
Publications
57,070
Reads
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4,403
Citations
Additional affiliations
August 2014 - June 2016
Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz
Position
  • Professor (Full)
October 2013 - July 2014
Universität Mannheim
Position
  • Visiting Professor of Health Psychology
October 2011 - September 2012
King's College London
Position
  • Visiting Researcher

Publications

Publications (253)
Article
Full-text available
Wardzinski and colleagues present the findings of an experimental provocation study, in which the effect of a 25 min exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic field (EMF) emitted by a mobile phone on food consumption is studied [...]
Article
Objective: The general understanding of disorders related to chronic somatic symptoms (e.g., somatic symptom disorder, functional somatic syndromes) is limited due to current categorical conceptualizations in traditional taxonomies. To improve clinical utility and validity, the Hierarchical Taxonomy of Psychopathology (HiTOP) offers an empirically...
Article
Debilitating persistent somatic symptoms of varying etiology are very common in emerging adults. Internet-delivered interventions could help to prevent the burden and chronicity of persistent somatic symptoms. This study investigated the impact of therapist guidance on the effectiveness of a cognitive-behavioral Internet intervention for somatic sy...
Article
Full-text available
IEI-EMF refers to an environmental illness whose primary feature is the occurence of symptoms that are attributed to exposure to weak electromagnetic fields (EMFs). There is a growing evidence that this condition is characterized by marked individual differences thus a within-subject approach might add important information beyond the widely used n...
Article
Zusammenfassung. Mentale Vorstellungsfähigkeit bezeichnet ein Konstrukt von enormer Bedeutung für diverse psychische Funktionen (z. B. Motivation, Emotion und Handlungssteuerung). Die Lebendigkeit gilt hierbei als ein zentrales und interindividuell variierendes Merkmal mentaler Vorstellungen. Bislang mangelt es allerdings an validierten deutschspra...
Article
Objective Idiopathic Environmental Intolerance (IEI; i.e. the experience of somatic symptoms attributed to environmental agents) represents a functional somatic syndrome of unclear aetiology. Based on previous findings that suggest an association between IEI and perceptual anomalies, this study aimed to investigate the relationship between symptom...
Article
Full-text available
Background: Behavioral approaches are central to the preventive treatment of migraine but empirical evidence regarding efficacy and effectiveness is still sparse. This study aimed to evaluate the efficacy of a newly developed migraine-specific, integrative cognitive-behavioral therapy program (miCBT) combining several approaches (trigger and stres...
Article
Experience is often regarded as a prerequisite of high performance. In the field of psychotherapy, research has yielded inconsistent results regarding the association between experience and therapy outcome. However, this research was mostly conducted cross-sectionally. A longitudinal study from the U.S. recently indicated that psychotherapists' exp...
Article
Objective For individuals with medically unexplained symptoms (MUS), cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is the best-evaluated treatment. This systematic review and meta-analyses identify clinical patient characteristics associated with the treatment outcome of CBT for MUS. Methods A systematic literature search (PubMed, PsycInfo, Web of Science) r...
Article
Objective: Persistent somatic symptom distress is common in emerging adults and is associated with adverse health outcomes and impairment. Internet-based interventions could help to prevent burden and chronicity. This randomized controlled trial tested the efficacy of a guided, cognitive-behavioral internet intervention for somatic symptom distres...
Article
The Hierarchical Taxonomy of Psychopathology (HiTOP) is a quantitative nosological system that addresses shortcomings of traditional mental disorder diagnoses, including arbitrary boundaries between psychopathology and normality, frequent disorder co-occurrence, substantial heterogeneity within disorders, and diagnostic unreliability over time and...
Article
Objective While studies mainly provide positive evidence for the efficacy of Internet-delivered cognitive-behavioral therapy (ICBT) for various persistent somatic symptoms, it remains largely unclear for whom these interventions work or not. This exploratory analysis aimed to identify moderators for the outcome between ICBT for somatic symptom dist...
Article
Objective: This study aimed to develop a self-report questionnaire for the assessment of attack-related fear in migraine, and to determine its factor structure as well as its psychometric properties by the primary analysis of a cross-sectional survey's data. Background: High fear of attacks in migraine increases the burden of disease and is assu...
Article
Background: Digital technologies have become a common starting point for health-related information-seeking. Web-or app-based symptom checkers aim to provide rapid and accurate condition suggestions and triage advice but have not yet been investigated for mental disorders in routine health care settings.
Article
Background: Contrary to traditional placebos, open-label placebos (OLP) abstain from deception, i.e., participants are openly informed to receive an inert substance. Studies in clinical and healthy samples evidence the efficacy of OLPs. This study aims to conceptually replicate and expand findings of a recent OLP study in healthy participants while...
Article
Attentional bias toward health-threat may theoretically contribute to the development and maintenance of health anxiety, but the empirical findings have been controversial. This study aimed to synthesize and explore the heterogeneity in a health-threat related attentional bias of health-anxious individuals, and to determine the theoretical model th...
Chapter
The Somatic Symptom Disorder (SSD) was introduced in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Patients with SSD suffer from at least one persistent somatic (i.e., physical) symptom that is accompanied by excessive and dysfunctional cognitive (e.g., catastrophic interpretation of bodily sensations), affec...
Article
Full-text available
Background: Many authors regard counseling self-efficacy (CSE) as important in therapist development and training. The purpose of this study was to examine the factor structure, reliability, and validity of the German version of the Counselor Activity Self-Efficacy Scales-Revised (CASES-R). Method: The sample consisted of 670 German psychotherapy t...
Preprint
Background and Objective: Placebos being prescribed with full honesty and disclosure (i.e., open-label placebo = OLP) have been shown to reduce symptom burden in a variety of conditions. With regard to allergic rhinits, previous research provided inconclusive evidence for the effects of OLP, possibly related to a separate focus on either symptom se...
Article
Full-text available
Aim: Lower interoceptive abilities are a characteristic of chronic pain conditions. Social support plays an important role in chronic low back pain (cLBP) but social cognitive skills have rarely been investigated. This study aimed to characterize interoceptive and social cognitive abilities in cLBP and to study the relationship between both domains...
Article
Full-text available
Objectives: While previous research has mainly focused on the impact of the first acute phase of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health, little empirical knowledge exists about depression, anxiety, and somatic symptom levels and possible predictors of symptom levels in the pandemic’s recovery phase. The present study aimed to analyze the mental bur...
Article
Objective Pre-existing health anxiety is associated with an intensified affective response to the novel COVID-19 pandemic in the general population. Still, results on the reaction of people with a diagnosis of pathological health anxiety (i.e., hypochondriasis) are scarce. Methods In the present study, we investigated the course of (health) anxiet...
Article
Background Cyberchondria describes the detrimental effects of health-related internet use. Current conceptualizations agree that cyberchondria is associated with anxiety-related pathologies and may best be conceptualized as a safety behavior; however, little is known about its exact underlying mechanisms. Objective This systematic review and meta-...
Article
Objective: Therapist competence is considered essential for the success of psychotherapy. Feedback is an intervention which has the potential to improve therapist competence. The present study investigated whether competence feedback leads to an improvement of therapist competence and patient outcome. Method: Sixty-seven master-level clinical tr...
Article
Objective: Disturbances in emotional processes are commonly reported in patients with a somatic symptom disorder (SSD). Although emotions usually occur in social interactions, little is known about interpersonal emotion dynamics of SSD patients during their actual emotional encounters. This study examined physiological coherence (linkage) between...
Article
The origin of idiopathic environmental intolerances (IEIs) is an open question. According to the psychological approaches, various top-down factors play a dominant role in the development of IEIs. The general psychopathology model assumes a propensity towards mental ill-health (negative affectivity) increases the probability of developing IEIs. The...
Article
Background: Digital technologies have become a common starting point for health-related information-seeking. Web- or app-based symptom checkers aim to provide rapid and accurate condition suggestions and triage advice but have not yet been investigated for mental disorders in routine health care settings. Objective: This study aims to test the d...
Preprint
BACKGROUND Digital technologies have become a common starting point for health-related information-seeking. Web- or app-based symptom checkers aim to provide rapid and accurate condition suggestions and triage advice but have not yet been investigated for mental disorders in routine health care settings. OBJECTIVE This study aims to test the diagn...
Article
Objective: Previous attempts to group persistent somatic symptoms (PSS) with factor-analytic approaches have obtained heterogeneous results. An alternative approach that seems to be more suitable is the network theory. Compared to factor analysis, which focuses on the underlying factor of symptoms, network analysis focuses on the dynamic relations...
Article
Interoception is the sense of the body's physiological state. Both the ability to accurately perceive bodily signals, and the self-reported sensibility for the body were assumed to be reciprocally associated with negative affect. Up to now, the specific interplay between dimensions of interoception and negative affect remains largely unknown. We in...
Chapter
Die Hypochondrie bezeichnet eine psychische Störung von Krankheitswert, bei der die Betroffenen trotz fehlender oder gegensätzlicher medizinischer Evidenz unter ständigen Sorgen und Überzeugungen leiden, an einer ernsthaften Erkrankung (z. B. Krebs) zu leiden. Diese krankheitsbezogenen Sorgen erwachsen zumeist aus einer katastrophisierenden Interpr...
Article
Objective Paranoid ideation is assumed to characterize worries about possible harmful effects of modern technologies (MHWs) and idiopathic environmental intolerances (IEIs), such as IEI attributed to electromagnetic fields (IEI-EMF). Empirical evidence on these associations is scarce. Methods In a cross-sectional on-line survey, participants of a...
Article
We report on Phase 1 efforts of the Hierarchical Taxonomy of Psychopathology (HiTOP) measurement subgroup tasked with developing provisional scales for the somatoform spectrum and eating disorders. In Study 1, items were written to assess five somatoform spectrum constructs (bodily distress symptoms, conversion symptoms, health anxiety, disease con...
Article
Background and purpose: Somatic symptoms without a clear-cut organic or biomedical background, also called "medically unexplained" or "somatoform" symptoms, are frequent in primary and secondary health care. They are often accompanied by depression and/or anxiety, and cause functional impairment. The Patient Health Question-naire Somatic Symptom S...
Article
Introduction: Hourly assessment forms enable standardized formative evaluation and documentation during psychotherapy. Currently available assessment instruments, however, are rarely used in practice and have a limited scope or psychometric shortcomings. The Mainz Hourly Assessment Form (MSB) strives to economically assess common factors of psychot...
Article
Objective: Despite evidence showing that systematic outcome monitoring can prevent treatment failure, the practical conditions that allow for implementation are seldom met in naturalistic psychological services. In the context of limited time and resources, session-by-session evaluation is rare in most clinical settings. This study aimed to valida...
Poster
Outcome predictions allow to improve psychotherapy and to increase economic benefit. The efficient translation into practice requires simple prediction methods. Routine data of low versus high distress patients (N = 3,145; classified by overall psychological distress, symptomatology, and previous treatment) were compared on total reduction in psych...
Article
Full-text available
b> Background: Myths in the sense of scientifically untenable statements are widespread in the field of clinical psychology and psychotherapy and can have considerable consequences (e.g., stigmatization, ineffective/potentially harmful treatments). In German-speaking countries, myths have so far been little investigated, and there is no validated q...
Article
Objectives: This study investigated how COVID-19-related media exposure during the COVID-19 crisis was related to same-day and next-day COVID-19-related worries. Design: A 21-day diary study was conducted between late March and late April 2020 in Germany. Main outcome measures: Hypotheses were tested in a sample of 561 participants (Mage = 42....
Article
Interoception is essential for the maintenance of physical and mental health. Paradigms assessing cardioceptive accuracy do not separate sensitivity from bias or are very demanding. We present the piloting (study 1; N = 60) and psychometric evaluation and validation (study 2; N = 84) of a novel task for the assessment of cardiac interoceptive perce...
Article
Objective Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) is the best-evaluated psychological approach to treat patients with medically unexplained symptoms (MUS). We still need a better understanding of what characterizes patients with MUS who benefit more or less from CBT. This systematic review aimed to identify patients' cognitive-emotional characteristics pr...
Article
Zusammenfassung. Theoretischer Hintergrund: Selbsterfahrung ist zentraler Bestandteil der Psychotherapieausbildung. Gleichzeitig wurde Selbsterfahrung selten empirisch untersucht. Fragestellung: Ziel unserer Studie war es, Bedingungen und Effekte hilfreicher Selbsterfahrung zu explorieren. Methode: Vierzehn verhaltenstherapeutische Ausbildungskandi...
Article
Full-text available
Vagally mediated heart rate variability (HRV) is a psychophysiological indicator of mental and physical health. Research indicates a reduced vagal activity and resulting lower HRV in patients with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD). There is limited research concerning whether HRV correlates with symptoms of depression and whether it mirrors symptom i...
Preprint
BACKGROUND “Cyberchondria” describes detrimental effects of health-related Internet use. Current conceptualizations agree that cyberchondria is associated with anxiety-related pathologies and might best be conceptualized as a safety behavior, but little is known about its exact underlying mechanisms. OBJECTIVE The present systematic review and met...
Article
Introduction: Success rates of psychotherapy in post-traumatic stress disorder related to childhood maltreatment (PTSD-CM) are limited. Methods and analysis: Observer-blind multicentre randomised clinical trial (A-1) of 4-year duration comparing enhanced methods of STAIR Narrative Therapy (SNT) and of trauma-focused psychodynamic therapy (TF-PDT...
Article
Background: Outcome predictions allow to improve psychotherapy and to increase economic benefit. The efficient translation into practice requires simple prediction methods. The present study evaluates the prediction of treatment outcome based on initial distress level. Methods: Routine data of a university psychotherapy outpatient clinic were used...
Article
Objectives Symptom misattribution is a central process in the nocebo effect but it is not accurately assessed in current side effect measures. We have developed a new measure, the Side Effect Attribution Scale (SEAS), which examines the degree to which people believe their symptoms are treatment side effects. Methods The SEAS was tested in three N...
Article
Full-text available
We highly welcome and appreciate the paper of Dieudonné, 2020 (https://doi.org/10.1186/s12940-020-00602-0) on the important but frequently neglected topic of hypersensitivity towards electromagnetic fields (EHS). We agree with the author that the electromagnetic hypothesis (that EHS is caused by exposure to electromagnetic fields) appears scientifi...
Article
Objective Three theoretically grounded hypotheses were tested that predict interactions between modern health worries (MHWs), somatic symptom distress, and negative affect. Design Cross-sectional. Main outcome measures Hypotheses were tested in a representative German sample (n = 2306) and a near-representative Swedish sample (n = 3406). Particip...
Article
Objective: According to the predictive processing theory of somatic symptom generation, body sensations are determined by somatosensory input and central nervous predictions about this input. We examined how expectations shape predictions and consequently bodily perceptions in a task eliciting illusory sensations as laboratory analogue of medically...
Article
Krankheitsängste sind weit verbreitet und in ihrer pathologischen Ausprägung in Form der Hypochondrischen Störung (ICD-10) kostenintensiv für das Gesundheitssystem. In den letzten Jahren gab es Fortschritte bei der Erforschung und Entwicklung effektiver psychotherapeutischer Behandlungen. Kognitiv-verhaltenstherapeutische Therapiekonzepte repräsent...
Article
Full-text available
The rubber hand illusion (RHI) is a widely used tool in the study of multisensory integration. It develops as the interaction of temporally consistent visual and tactile input, which can overwrite proprioceptive information. Theoretically, the accuracy of proprioception may influence the proneness to the RHI but this has received little research at...
Article
Full-text available
The COVID-19 pandemic represents a worldwide threat to mental health. To optimize the allocation of health care resources, research on specific vulnerability factors, such as health anxiety, intolerance of uncertainty, and distress (in)tolerance, and particularly their effect on the time course of SARS-CoV-2 related anxiety appears crucial for supp...
Article
Hintergrund: Erfolgsprognosen ermöglichen eine stetige Weiterentwicklung und ökonomische Anwendung von Psychotherapie. Deren effizienter Einsatz in der Praxis bedarf einer einfach umzusetzenden Prognosestellung. Die vorliegende Studie prüft die Vorhersage von Therapieerfolg aufgrund des anfänglichen Belastungsniveaus. Methoden: Verwendet wurden Dat...
Article
Somatic symptoms are a central feature of most mental and physical disorders. According to Bayesian predictive coding, symptom perceptions result from integrating expectations and current sensory input. Imprecise sensory input should be more vulnerable to top down influence than precise sensory input. The thermal grill illusion (TGI) provides an am...
Article
The exact causes of Idiopathic Environmental Intolerance Attributed to Electromagnetic Fields (IEI-EMF, i.e., experience of somatic symptoms attributed to low-level electromagnetic fields) are still unknown. Psychological causation such as nocebo effects seem plausible. This study aimed to experimentally induce a nocebo effect for somatic symptom p...
Article
Full-text available
OBJECTIVE: The neurophysiological processes involved in the generation of medically-unexplained symptoms (MUS) remain unclear. This study tested three assumptions of the perception-filter model contributing to MUS: (I.) increased bodily signal strength (II.) decreased filter function, (III.) increased perception. METHODS: In this cross-sectional, o...
Article
Full-text available
Objective: To examine the factor structure of the Headache Triggers Sensitivity and Avoidance Questionnaire (HTSAQ) and its German version (HTSAQ-G), in order to identify potential different types of triggers. Furthermore, a short form of the questionnaire was developed. Background: The HTSAQ includes 24 of the most commonly reported headache tr...
Preprint
Full-text available
This study investigated the within- and across-day associations between Corona-related media exposure and Corona-related worries during the COVID-19 crisis in late March to April 2020 in Germany. In a 21-day online diary study based on a convenience sample of parents of school-aged children (N = 561; Mage = 42.79, SDage = 6.12), same-day analyses r...
Article
Background Cluster headache (CH) is clinically associated with considerable psychosocial burden. However, instruments to assess and characterize psychosocial factors in cluster headache more specifically are lacking. This study aimed to develop a self-report questionnaire, which assesses the broadest possible spectrum of psychosocial factors in clu...
Article
Full-text available
Mental disorders with physical symptoms, e.g. somatic symptom disorder, are characterized by altered interoceptive accuracy (IAc), which can be explained by individual differences in interoceptive learning (IL). We investigated if stress facilitates IL. Seventy-three healthy participants performed a heartbeat counting task (HCT: T1) and a heartbeat...
Article
Idiopathic environmental intolerance (IEI) refers to a health condition characterized by the presence of multiple symptoms in different organ systems in response to a variety of environmental cues, such as chemical exposures, electromagnetic radiation, infrasound from windmill farms, (parts of) buildings, foods, etc. Typically, the symptoms arise i...