Doctorate in Clinical Psychology: Main Research Portfolio
: 1) A 'malignant interaction' or separate processes: the role of rumination and worry across insomnia and chronic pain; 2) Service evaluation of the Neurodevelopmental Clinic in Swindon and Wiltshire Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS); 3) A targeted CBT intervention for health and anxiety in Multiple Sclerosis: a replication and brief case series.

  • Neil Carrigan

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Clinical Psychology (DClinPsy)


Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is an incurable disease which is commonly associated with psychological complications. Previous research by Hayter and colleagues found that in patients with MS, health anxiety (HA) can account for part the variance in quality of life (QoL) independent of any physical and cognitive impairment caused by the disease and that MS patients with health anxiety perceived their (intact) physical and cognitive performance as impaired relative to MS patients without health anxiety, attributing the impairment to MS. The findings suggest that such misperceptions might be useful targets in the treatment of health anxiety in MS using adapted cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). The first of two studies presented here sought to replicate the findings from Hayter et al. before a second presents the findings from a brief case series of treatment for HA using CBT. In Study 1, twenty participants with Relapsing and Remitting MS were screened for HA and assigned to either a high or low HA group. Participants then completed assessment of cognitive and physical functioning before rating their performance on these tasks. Measures of QoL, mood and physical disability were then completed. Four participants in the high HA group subsequently received six sessions of CBT using a consecutive AB case series in Study 2. Study 1 replicated the main findings from the earlier study. In Study 2, three of the four patients who received treatment showed substantial improvements in HA and mood and all showed improvement in QoL. Given the high rates of HA in MS patients and its impact on QoL, this case series suggests a brief CBT intervention could significantly improve patients’ wellbeing. The findings pave the way for larger, controlled studies into the effectiveness of CBT for health anxiety in MS.
Date of Award1 Sept 2014
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorPaul Salkovskis (Supervisor)

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