Hypochondriasis and Health Anxiety

Steven Taylor and Gordon J. G. Asmundson

in Oxford Handbook of Anxiety and Related Disorders

Published in print September 2008 | ISBN: 9780195307030
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

Hypochondriasis and Health Anxiety


This chapter reviews the nature, assessment, and treatment of excessive health anxiety, the most severe form of which is hypochondriasis. Etiologic research suggests that genetic factors play a modest role, and that learning experiences regarding health, disease, and medical treatment play an important role. These experiences appear to give rise to maladaptive beliefs that, in turn, lead to behaviors such as persistent reassurance-seeking and other forms of checking, which can perpetuate health anxiety. Research indicates that cognitive behavioral therapies are among the most effective interventions. The elements of these treatments are reviewed, and important future directions for improving treatment outcome are discussed.

Keywords: cognitive behavioral therapy; health anxiety; hypochondriasis; reassurance-seeking; sick role

Article.  9815 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Clinical Psychology

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