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13-11-2019 | Original Article | Uitgave 1/2020

Cognitive Therapy and Research 1/2020

Autobiographical Memory and Episodic Future Thinking in Severe Health Anxiety: A Comparison with Obsessive–Compulsive Disorder

Cognitive Therapy and Research > Uitgave 1/2020
Tine B. Gehrt, Lisbeth Frostholm, Marie-Louise Obermann, Dorthe Berntsen
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The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1007/​s10608-019-10058-3) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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Severe health anxiety is characterized by intrusive worries about harboring a serious illness. In the present study, 32 patients with severe health anxiety, 32 control participants and a clinical control group of 33 patients with obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD) reported unprompted and anxiety-related autobiographical memories and episodic future thoughts. Compared to control participants, the patient groups displayed similar patterns in the characteristics of the reported events and regarding the maladaptive cognitive and behavioral strategies used, when the events came to mind. Patients with severe health anxiety reported more events related to their own illness or death than either of the other groups, and exploratory analyses suggested that they were more inclined than OCD patients to check their own bodies when anxiety-related events came to mind. Autobiographical memories and episodic future thoughts have not previously been examined in patients with severe health anxiety, but could play an important role in this disorder.

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