How do illness-anxious individuals process health-threatening information? A systematic review of evidence for the cognitive-behavioral model
SourceJournal of Psychosomatic Research
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According to the cognitive-behavioral model, illness anxiety is developed and maintained through biased processing of health-threatening information and maladaptive responses to such information. OBJECTIVE: This study is a systematic review of research that attempted to validate central tenets of the cognitive-behavioral model regarding etiological and maintenance mechanisms in illness anxiety. METHODS: Sixty-two studies, including correlational and experimental designs, were identified through a systematic search of databases and were evaluated for their quality. RESULTS: Outcomes were synthesized following a qualitative thematic approach under categories of theoretically driven mechanisms derived from the cognitive-behavioral model: attention, memory and interpretation biases, perceived awareness and inaccuracy in perception of somatic sensations, negativity bias, emotion dysregulation, and behavioral avoidance. CONCLUSIONS: Findings partly support the cognitive-behavioral model, but several of its hypothetical mechanisms only receive weak support due to the scarcity of relevant studies. Directions for future research are suggested based on identified gaps in the existing literature.