Cognitive models of panic disorder (PD) with or without agoraphobia have stressed the role of catastrophic beliefs of bodily symptoms as a central mediating variable of the efficacy of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Perceived ability to cope with or control panic attacks, panic self-efficacy, has also been proposed to play a key role in therapeutic change; however, this cognitive factor has received much less attention in research. The aim of the present review is to evaluate panic self-efficacy as a mediator of therapeutic outcome in CBT for PD using descriptive and meta-analytic procedures. We performed systematic literature searches, and included and evaluated 33 studies according to four criteria for establishing mediation. Twenty-eight studies, including nine randomized waitlist-controlled studies, showed strong support for CBT improving panic self-efficacy (criterion 1); ten showed an association between change in panic self-efficacy and change in outcome during therapy (criterion 2); three tested, and one established formal statistical mediation of panic self-efficacy (criterion 3); while four tested and three found change in panic self-efficacy occurring before the reduction of panic severity (criterion 4). Although none of the studies fulfilled all of the four criteria, results provide some support for panic self-efficacy as a mediator of outcome in CBT for PD, generally on par with catastrophic beliefs in the reviewed studies.
Fentz, H. N., Arendt, M., O’Toole, M. S., Hoffart, A., & Hougaard, E. (2014). The mediational role of panic self-efficacy in cognitive behavioral therapy for panic disorder: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 60, 23-33.