Doctorate in Clinical Psychology: Main Research Portfolio
: 1) Exploring the relationship between perfectionism and fatigue: Informing psychological models of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome; 2)A qualitative analysis of the information needs of parents of children with Cystic Fibrosis prior to first admission; 3)Psychological factors in Parkinson’s Disease.

  • Vera Fixter

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Clinical Psychology (DClinPsy)


Background: Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is neurodegenerative condition with anunpredictable prognosis. Although research indicates high levels of anxiety anddepression among those with PD, few studies have focussed on more specificpsychological factors such as anxiety focussed on health. Objective: The primaryaim of this study was to evaluate the extent and impact of health anxiety on qualityof life (QoL), psychological distress and perceived disability in patients with PD.Method: Fifty-five patients with PD completed questionnaires assessing healthanxiety, mood, and QoL. Participants also completed tasks assessing cognitive andphysical functioning and perceived performance. Participants with relatively high orrelatively low health anxiety were compared with a non-PD community sample(N=32). Results: The high health anxiety PD group reported significantly lower QoL relative to both comparison groups independent of level of disability. They also reported elevated psychological distress (anxiety and depression). The PD groups were significantly impaired on both cognitive and physical endurance tasks relative to healthy controls, but only the high health anxious PD group perceived themselves as significantly impaired on the cognitive task. Neither PD group perceived their performance as impaired on the physical task. Health anxiety was found to be abetter predictor of psychological distress relative to other contributory factors such as intolerance of uncertainty. Conclusion: Health anxiety may interact with the experience of PD in ways which impact on QoL, psychological distress and perceived disability. PD patients may also underestimate the impact of their illness on their physical impairment.
Date of Award14 Aug 2015
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorPaul Salkovskis (Supervisor), James Gregory (Supervisor), Catherine Butler (Supervisor) & Jo Daniels (Supervisor)

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