Health anxiety is associated with significant personal distress and economic cost; as such, widely available and effective treatment options are crucial. Several studies suggest that Internet-delivered cognitive behavior therapy (ICBT) programs that specifically target health anxiety are efficacious for this condition. However, no known studies have examined the impact of transdiagnostic ICBT, which emphasizes the acquisition of broad coping skills applicable to a variety of mental health concerns, on symptoms of health anxiety. The current study sought to explore changes in health anxiety symptoms by utilizing data available from a previously published study of 8-week transdiagnostic ICBT. Specifically, changes in symptoms of health anxiety in response to a transdiagnostic ICBT program that targeted broad symptoms of depression and anxiety, were examined in a subsample of individuals who endorsed elevated symptom scores on the Short Health Anxiety Inventory at pre-treatment (n = 72). Following treatment, large reductions in health anxiety symptoms (Cohen's d = 0.91; 20% improvement), depression (Cohen's d = 0.85; reduction = 38%), generalized anxiety (Cohen's d = 1.21; reduction = 42%), and disability (Cohen's d = 0.90; reduction = 35%) were reported. Furthermore, results showed that transdiagnostic ICBT was rated as acceptable to people with high health anxiety symptoms. Despite elevated pre-treatment health anxiety scores, email correspondence between clients and their therapist revealed very few mentions of health anxiety. These findings provide preliminary evidence for transdiagnostic ICBT for symptoms of health anxiety and suggest further research is warranted.
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- health anxiety
- cognitive behavior therapy