Cognitive-behavioral treatment of hypochondriasis

Hilary M C Warwick, Paul M Salkovskis

Research output: Chapter or section in a book/report/conference proceedingChapter or section


Cognitive-behavioral theory provides a comprehensive account of the psychological processes involved in hypochondriasis, including etiological and maintaining factors. Treatment strategies derived from this formulation have been found to be effective in clinical cases of hypochondriasis. Effective therapy therefore involves modification of both the central threat-related appraisals that form the core of the experience of health anxiety, and the specific factors involved in the maintenance of the misinterpretations (and therefore anxiety) in each case. The main targets of cognitive-behavioral treatment are the patient's false beliefs that he or she is physically ill, based on the misinterpretation of innocuous physical symptoms and/or signs, and the responses that are motivated by such misinterpretations. This chapter describes cognitive-behavioral treatment strategies derived from this formulation, and their clinical applications. Difficulties in applying cognitive-behavioral treatments, which are specific to patients with hypochondriasis, are described, along with some solutions. Studies investigating the efficacy of this treatment are critically discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHypochondriasis: Modern Perspectives on an Ancient Malady
EditorsV Starcevic, D R Lipsitt
Place of PublicationNew York, NY
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages15
ISBN (Print)0-19-512676-9
Publication statusPublished - 2001


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