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A Systematic Review of Interventions for Health Anxiety Presentations Across Diverse Chronic Illnesses

International Journal of Behavioral Medicine
Danielle Petricone-Westwood, Georden Jones, Brittany Mutsaers, Caroline Séguin Leclair, Christina Tomei, Geneviève Trudel, Andreas Dinkel, Sophie Lebel
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The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1007/​s12529-018-9748-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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Health anxiety (HA) is associated with reduced quality of life among individuals with chronic illnesses. However, little is known about effective interventions for reducing HA in this context. This study aimed to comprehensively review the literature on interventions for the treatment of HA in chronic illness.


This study was conducted as part of a larger systematic review on HA among individuals diagnosed with a chronic illness, using literature published between January 1996 and October 2017. A total of 51 articles were selected as they reported on interventions with pre-post measures and described the impact of the intervention on HA.


The data on psychotherapy (CBT, third-wave CBT, and mindfulness), patient education, and rehabilitation programs demonstrated effectiveness in cancer and cardiac patients. Exercise interventions demonstrated effectiveness in patients with Parkinson’s disease, and medical interventions showed limited effectiveness in reducing HA in diabetes and epilepsy. Most interventions yielding significant outcomes were at least 6 to 8 weeks long.


The literature supports that a variety of interventions may be effective in reducing HA in individuals with chronic illness. Future research should test single interventions across several illnesses, as well as several interventions within a single illness to better understand how HA can be managed across chronic illnesses.

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