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01-12-2010 | Uitgave 4/2010

Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment 4/2010

Health Anxiety: Latent Structure and Associations with Anxiety-related Psychological Processes in a Student Sample

Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment > Uitgave 4/2010
Michael G. Wheaton, Noah C. Berman, Joseph C. Franklin, Jonathan S. Abramowitz


Although currently classified as a somatoform disorder, cognitive-behavioral models conceptualize hypochondriasis (HC) as a severe form of health anxiety. The Short Health Anxiety Inventory (SHAI) is a measure derived from this conceptualization that measures health anxiety symptoms across the range of severity. Previous studies have reported inconsistent findings regarding this measure’s factor structure, but these studies employed factor analytic tools that did not account for the categorical nature of SHAI items. The present psychometric study was designed to address these inconsistencies using categorical factor analysis. Using data from a large student sample we found that the SHAI had two factors: Illness Likelihood and Illness Severity. We also examined the relationship between these domains and cognitive variables associated with other anxiety disorders. Results suggested that the psychological processes present in obsessive-compulsive disorder and panic disorder are also associated with health anxiety. Implications for the conceptualization and classification of severe health anxiety are discussed.

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