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23-02-2016 | Uitgave 2/2016

Journal of Rational-Emotive & Cognitive-Behavior Therapy 2/2016

Irrational Beliefs and Attention Bias Towards Symptoms-Related Stimuli in Maintaining Gastrointestinal Symptoms: Results from a Pilot Study

Journal of Rational-Emotive & Cognitive-Behavior Therapy > Uitgave 2/2016
Cristina Mogoaşe, Daniel David, Dan L. Dumitraşcu
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The online version of this article (doi:10.​1007/​s10942-015-0226-7) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.


Recent etiopathogenic theories of gastrointestinal conditions state that information processing biases can be a possible major factor involved in the aetiology and maintenance of these conditions. This exploratory study investigated the role of attention biases (AB) towards symptoms-related cues in gastrointestinal patients with respect to symptom maintenance, simultaneously taking into consideration the role of irrational beliefs. We included 32 patients diagnosed with gastrointestinal conditions. Patients completed a battery of psychological tests and an experimental task aimed to measure the preferential attention processing of linguistic stimuli related to gastrointestinal symptoms when they compete for attention resources with neutral stimuli. AB was positively related to irrational beliefs [r(31) = .376, p = .037] and analgesics use [r(32) = .518, p = .002], but not to self-report gastrointestinal symptoms [r(30) = −.165, p = .382]. Irrational beliefs correlated with pain catastrophizing [r(31) = .373, p = .039], but not to gastrointestinal symptoms, pain intensity, visceral sensitivity or negative emotions; however, pain catastrophizing correlated with all of these. Taken together, our results suggest that core irrational beliefs action as general vulnerability factors that trigger specific implicit and explicit cognitive mechanisms (i.e., AB, pain catastrophizing) involved in the onset and maintenance of symptoms. Future experimental studies should test the robustness of these results in larger samples and aim to further advance our understanding of how cognitive factors interact and potentiate each other in generating and maintaining debilitating suffering.

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