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Predictors of Course and Outcome in Hypochondriasis after Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment

Hiller W.a,b · Leibbrand R.b · Rief W.c · Fichter M.M.a,d
aRoseneck Center of Behavioral Medicine, Prien, bPsychological Institute, University of Mainz, cPsychological Institute, University of Marburg, dDepartment of Psychiatry, University of Munich, Germany Psychother Psychosom 2002;71:318–325 (DOI:10.1159/000065990)


Background: Predictors of treatment outcome were evaluated in a clinical sample suffering from hypochondriasis. Methods: The sample consisted of 96 patients with hypochondriacal disorder according to DSM-IV or high syndrome scores on the Illness Attitude Scales (IAS) or Whiteley Index (WI). After intense inpatient cognitive-behavioral treatment (CBT), 60% of the patients were classified as responders because of substantial improvements or recovery from hypochondriacal symptomatology. Results: Non-responders were characterized by a higher degree of pre-treatment hypochondriasis, more somatization symptoms and general psychopathology (SCL-90R), more dysfunctional cognitions related to bodily functioning, higher levels of psychosocial impairments, and more utilization of the health care system as indicated by the number of hospital days and costs for inpatient treatments and medication. No predictive value was found for sociodemographic variables, comorbidity with other mental disorders and chronicity. Multiple linear regression showed that pre-treatment variables significantly predicted IAS scores at post-treatment (R2 = 0.59), changes during treatment (0.10), IAS scores at follow-up two years later (0.41) and changes between baseline and follow-up (0.25). Conclusions: The results demonstrate the relevance of various psychopathological variables and health care utilization as important indicators for outcome and further course of clinical hypochondriasis.


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