CBT for Health Anxiety: A Meta-Analysis of Treatment Outcome and Moderators

The present investigation employed meta-analysis to examine the efficacy of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) for hypochondriasis/health anxiety as well as potential moderators that may be associated with outcome. A literature search revealed 15 comparisons among 13 randomized-controlled trials (RCTs) with a total sample size of 1081 participants that met inclusion criteria. Results indicated that CBT outperformed control conditions on primary outcome measures at post-treatment (Hedges’s g = 0.95) and at follow-up (Hedges’s g = 0.34). CBT also outperformed control conditions on measures of depression at post-treatment (Hedges’s g = 0.64) and at follow-up (Hedges’s g = 0.35). Moderator analyses revealed that higher pre-treatment severity of hypochondriasis/health anxiety was associated with greater effect sizes at follow-up visits and depression symptom severity was significantly associated with a lower in effect sizes at post-treatment. Although effect size did not vary as a function of blind assessment, smaller effect sizes were observed for CBT vs. treatment as usual control conditions than for CBT vs. waitlist control. A dose response relationship was also observed, such that a greater number of CBT sessions was associated with larger effect sizes at post-treatment. This review indicates that CBT is efficacious in the treatment of hypochondriasis/health anxiety and identifies potential moderators that are associated with outcome. The implications of these findings for further delineating prognostic and prescriptive indicators of CBT for hypochondriasis/health anxiety are discussed.

Olatunji, B. O., Kauffman, B. Y., Meltzer, S., Davis, M. L., Smits, J. A. J., & Powers, M. B. (July 01, 2014). Cognitive-behavioral therapy for hypochondriasis/health anxiety: A meta-analysis of treatment outcome and moderators. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 58, 10, 65-74.

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