Health anxiety (or hypochondriasis) is prevalent, may be persistent and disabling for the sufferers and associated with high societal costs. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a new third-wave behavioral cognitive therapy that has not yet been tested in health anxiety. 34 consecutive Danish patients with severe health anxiety were referred from general practitioners or hospital departments and received a ten session ACT group therapy. Patients were followed-up by questionnaires for 6 months. There were significant reductions in health anxiety, somatic symptoms and emotional distress at 6 months compared to baseline: a 49% reduction in health anxiety (Whiteley-7 Index), a 47% decrease in emotional distress (SCL-8) and a 40% decrease in somatic symptoms (SCL-90-R). Furthermore, the patients’ perceptions of their illness (IPQ, a condensed Danish version) were significantly more optimistic at 6-month follow-up compared to baseline, and 87% of the patients were very or extremely satisfied with the treatment.
Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 2013, Vol 27, Issue 5, p. 461-8