Development and testing of an intervention to increase staff knowledge and confidence in responding to health anxiety in the context of cognitive decline: a pilot study

Jessica Colenutt, Rita De Nicola, Jo Daniels

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Background: Memory complaint in the absence of organic pathology is a common phenomenon accounting for up to one third of patients presenting to memory clinics. Health anxiety has been specifically linked to dementia worry and repeated presentations to the National Health Service (NHS). Providing reassurance that an individual does not have dementia appears ineffective in reducing presentations to primary and secondary care services.
Aims: This study sought to evaluate and establish the effectiveness of a 1-hour pilot training workshop to enhance healthcare professionals knowledge and confidence to those with health anxiety around cognitive decline.
Method: The one-session pilot training workshop was developed and informed by previous work and consultation with the 2Gether NHS Foundation Trust Memory Assessment Service staff. The training workshop was then evaluated by employing an idiosyncratic self-report questionnaire. Participants completed the questionnaire prior to and after the training workshop.
Results: Pre- and post-training questionnaires revealed that the pilot training workshop was effective in increasing perceived knowledge and confidence in staff responding to patients presenting with health anxiety and co-occurring subjective memory complaints.
Conclusions: The findings suggest that healthcare professionals may benefit from training in identifying and addressing health anxious individuals with subjective memory complaints. This may have implications in the provision of psychologically-informed care offered in a memory assessment service. Recommendations are made for further enhancing the effectiveness of staff training and promoting alternative service treatment pathways.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)485-490
Number of pages6
JournalBehavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy
Issue number5
Early online date22 Jun 2023
Publication statusPublished - 22 Sept 2023

Bibliographical note

Financial support
This research received no specific grant from any funding agency, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

Data Availability Statement

The data that support the findings of this study are available from the corresponding author, J.C., upon reasonable request. The data are not publicly available due to them containing information that could compromise research participant privacy and consent.


  • Clinical neuropsychology
  • Health anxiety
  • Keywords:
  • Memory assessment service
  • Service evaluation
  • Subjective memory complaints

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology


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