Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Researchers Study Interpersonal Effects Of Hypochondriasis

Date:
July 14, 2003
Source:
University Of Iowa
Summary:
Hypochondriasis, or excessive worry over one's health, is a psychiatric disorder that can affect every aspect of a person's life -- especially interpersonal relationships. University of Iowa researchers are finding ways to study the condition and how it affects relationships, including patient-doctor interaction.

Hypochondriasis, or excessive worry over one's health, is a psychiatric disorder that can affect every aspect of a person's life -- especially interpersonal relationships. University of Iowa researchers are finding ways to study the condition and how it affects relationships, including patient-doctor interaction.

Hypochondriasis involves preoccupation with a fear of having or developing a serious illness, despite lack of physical evidence of illness. It affects 4 to 9 percent of family practice or primary care outpatients, according to Russell Noyes, M.D., professor emeritus of psychiatry in the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine.

Noyes and co-investigator Scott Stuart, M.D., UI associate professor of psychiatry, studied the interpersonal model of hypochondriasis, which regards the condition as a care-eliciting behavior. By communicating their anxiety and distress over physical symptoms to other people, patients with hypochondriasis hope to obtain care and concern.

The investigators studied the interpersonal model by assessing primary care outpatients for hypochondriasis and attachment style, which is the way in which people form relationships with others. The findings appeared in the March-April 2003 issue of Psychosomatic Medicine.

"The study we did was the first demonstration applying this model," Noyes said. "People are securely attached or not so securely attached to people who are important in their lives. What we showed was that hypochondriacal people are insecurely attached."

Patients who are insecurely attached in other relationships are also likely to feel insecure in the physician-patient relationship, which can lead to problems with health care satisfaction. Often encountering what they interpret as rejection from physicians, people with hypochondriasis go "doctor shopping," searching for a physician to reassure them in some way, Noyes said.

In a separate study published in 2000, Noyes and Stuart found that hypochondriacal and non-hypochondriacal patients interviewed about recent health problems and medical care both gave equal numbers of positive comments about physicians, but the hypochondriacal patients made significantly more negative comments overall. Many of these patients saw physicians as unskilled and uncaring, and felt their relationship with the physician had suffered because of poor communication. Physicians need to be more aware of hypochondriasis to improve physician-patient relationships, Noyes said.

"Doctors don't do a very good job of recognizing hypochondriasis and they rarely diagnosis it, but it is a real psychiatric disorder and source of distress," Noyes said. "One of the reasons they fail to recognize hypochondriasis is that it comes in a disguised form -- the patient presents physical symptoms and the doctor examines and finds no physical explanation, then dismisses the patient.

"Another problem is that, until recently, there haven't been good treatments for hypochondriasis, and we tend to diagnose things we have treatments for," Noyes added.

While there have been preliminary trials with antidepressant medications like Prozac, hypochondriasis is generally treated with cognitive behavioral therapy. This therapy teaches hypochondriacal patients what generates their symptoms and how to overcome worrisome thoughts. Interpersonal therapy is designed to identify a patient's interpersonal problems and help the patient correct them, Noyes said.

"It's been a neglected subject, and in the past, there's been considerable pessimism over treatment of hypochondriasis. Doctors have regarded these as 'difficult' people to treat, and patients have not been satisfied with the care they've received," Noyes said. "The most important thing is to establish this as a valid diagnosis for which there is effective treatment, and that's beginning to occur."

As part of the interpersonal study, Noyes and Stuart found some evidence that childhood adversity -- such as physical or sexual abuse, becoming seriously ill as a child, or having parents that are neglectful or overly attentive during a child's illness -- can contribute to hypochondriasis in adulthood. The researchers found that as many as a third of the hypochondriacal patients in the study reported a serious childhood illness, much higher than in the patients who were not hypochondriacal.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Iowa. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of Iowa. "Researchers Study Interpersonal Effects Of Hypochondriasis." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 July 2003. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/07/030714092759.htm>.
University Of Iowa. (2003, July 14). Researchers Study Interpersonal Effects Of Hypochondriasis. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/07/030714092759.htm
University Of Iowa. "Researchers Study Interpersonal Effects Of Hypochondriasis." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/07/030714092759.htm (accessed August 28, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Treadmill 'trips' May Reduce Falls for Elderly

Treadmill 'trips' May Reduce Falls for Elderly

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) Scientists are tripping the elderly on purpose in a Chicago lab in an effort to better prevent seniors from falling and injuring themselves in real life. (Aug.28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) It’s an unusual condition with a colorful name. Kids with “Alice in Wonderland” syndrome see sudden distortions in objects they’re looking at or their own bodies appear to change size, a lot like the main character in the Lewis Carroll story. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stopping Schizophrenia Before Birth

Stopping Schizophrenia Before Birth

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) Scientists have long called choline a “brain booster” essential for human development. Not only does it aid in memory and learning, researchers now believe choline could help prevent mental illness. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Personalized Brain Vaccine for Glioblastoma

Personalized Brain Vaccine for Glioblastoma

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) Glioblastoma is the most common and aggressive brain cancer in humans. Now a new treatment using the patient’s own tumor could help slow down its progression and help patients live longer. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins