- ItemUgh! Don’t get sick: disgust sensitivity contributes to health anxiety(2023) Styba-Nelson, Kevin; Byam, Layton; Penney, AlexanderHealth anxiety (HA) refers to persistent fears about experiencing or developing severe illnesses. HA has been associated with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and with dysfunctional health beliefs. However, some research has also indicated that the primary emotion of disgust may be associated with HA. The present study sought to investigate if a relationship exists between HA and disgust, even when controlling for OCD symptoms and dysfunctional metacognitive beliefs about health. An undergraduate sample (N=552) completed online self-report questionnaires of HA, OCD symptoms, health-related-metacognitions, disgust propensity, and disgust sensitivity. Disgust propensity refers to the likelihood that a person will experience disgust, while disgust sensitivity refers to how strongly a person experiences disgust. OCD symptoms, health-related-metacognitions, disgust propensity, and disgust sensitivity all showed moderate to strong bivariate correlations with HA. A hierarchical multiple linear regression was conducted with HA as the dependent variable, OCD symptoms entered in the first step, health-related-metacognitions in the second step, and disgust propensity and disgust sensitivity in the third step. It was found that disgust sensitivity, but not disgust propensity, was a unique predicter of HA, even when controlling for both OCD symptoms and health-related-metacognitions. This finding suggests a person’s sensitivity to the emotion of disgust may play a role in HA, and that this relationship is not better accounted for by OCD symptoms or health-related-metacognitions. Techniques targeting disgust sensitivity could be a valuable addition to therapies aimed at HA, with interoceptive exposure to the feelings of disgust being a possible area for future research.
- ItemCan’t stop worrying? Examining the mechanisms of generalized anxiety disorder(2023) Parkinson, Sydney; Penney, AlexanderIndividuals with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) experience excessive and chronic worry over various daily events. If left untreated, GAD tends to be impairing and chronic. Existing research has shown negative beliefs about worry (NBW), positive beliefs about worry (PBW), intolerance of uncertainty (IU), and fear of emotions to be associated with GAD. However, the existing research is primarily cross-sectional. The present longitudinal study examined whether changes in NBW, PBW, IU, and fear of emotions predict changes in pathological worry and GAD symptoms over time. Undergraduate psychology students (N = 372), pre-screened for high levels of worry, completed a series of online self-report measures assessing worry, GAD symptoms, NBW, PBW, IU, and fear of emotions. Participants completed the questionnaires again 4 months later. Changes in NBW, IU, and fears of emotions predicted changes in worry severity. Additionally, changes in NBW and IU were the only mechanisms to predict changes in GAD symptoms. Further, NBW was the strongest predictor of changes in both worry and GAD. These findings have implications for the understanding and treatment of GAD. Primarily targeting NBW, while incorporating IU and fear of emotions into therapy, may enhance the treatment of GAD.
- ItemDo metacognitions contribute to health anxiety when controlling for OCD comorbidity?(2023) Styba-Nelson, Kevin; Byam, Layton; Penney, AlexanderPrevious research has found that dysfunctional metacognitive beliefs about health are associated with health anxiety (HA), even when controlling for depression, anxiety, and anxiety sensitivity. Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) overlaps with HA, but OCD symptoms have not been controlled for in prior studies that examined metacognitive beliefs about health. The current study examined if metacognitive beliefs about health remain associated with HA when OCD and anxiety sensitivity were accounted for. An undergraduate sample (N = 400) completed online self-report questionnaires of OCD symptoms, anxiety sensitivity, metacognitive beliefs about health, and HA. OCD symptoms, anxiety sensitivity, and metacognitive beliefs about health all showed moderate to strong bivariate correlations with HA. A hierarchical multiple regression was conducted where OCD symptoms were entered in the first step, anxiety sensitivity was entered in the second step, and metacognitive beliefs were entered in the last step. Metacognitive beliefs about the uncontrollability of illness-related thoughts, along with OCD symptoms and anxiety sensitivity about physical concerns, were found to be uniquely predictive of HA. These findings support previous research establishing a link between metacognitive beliefs and HA, and expand upon them by suggesting the relationship is not accounted for by OCD symptoms.
- ItemAnxiety sensitivity, metacognitions, and generalized anxiety disorder symptoms(2023) Styba-Nelson, Kevin; Penney, AlexanderPrevious research has established that anxiety sensitivity (AS) and metacognitions are both associated with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). AS consists of social concerns, cognitive concerns, and physical concerns about the negative impact of anxiety symptoms. Metacognitions are thoughts and beliefs about one’s cognitions, and both positive and negative beliefs about worry are key metacognitions in GAD. This study examined the unique contributions of these metacognitions and facets of AS on worry severity and GAD symptoms. An undergraduate sample (N = 150) completed self-report questionnaires of GAD symptoms, worry severity, AS, and metacognitions. Moderate to strong bivariate correlations were found between all variables. The results of multiple regression equations revealed that social concerns of AS, positive beliefs about worry, and negative beliefs about worry were uniquely associated with both GAD symptoms and worry severity. Additionally, negative beliefs about worry remained the only significant predictor of GAD symptoms when controlling for worry severity. These findings agree with previous research that negative beliefs about worry are a robust predictor of GAD symptoms. This serves to further highlight negative beliefs about worry’s connection with GAD, and indicates that therapists may wish to focus on negative beliefs about worry more than AS when treating GAD.
- ItemAre metacognitions part of the common core cognitive vulnerability?(2023) Styba-Nelson, Kevin; Penney, AlexanderHong and colleagues have recently argued that anxiety and depression-related constructs like anxiety sensitivity (AS), intolerance of uncertainty, and ruminative style may be components of a broad general negative repetitive thinking style, known as the common core cognitive vulnerability. Despite similarities between AS and dysfunctional metacognitive beliefs, particularly between AS cognitive concerns and negative metacognitive beliefs about worry, there has been a lack of research examining commonalities between them. Examining AS and metacognitions together may help indicate if dysfunctional metacognitions should be considered another component of this larger cognitive vulnerability. In this study, an undergraduate sample (N=350) completed self-report questionnaires of AS and metacognitive beliefs. AS was assessed using the Anxiety Sensitivity Index-3 (ASI-3) with its three subscales measuring physically, socially, and cognitively focused concerns. Metacognitive beliefs were assessed using the Metacognition Questionaire-30 (MCQ-30), with its five subscales for positive beliefs about worry, negative beliefs about worry, cognitive confidence, need to control thoughts, and cognitive self-consciousness. An exploratory principal component analysis revealed the model of best fit was a one factor solution, with all eight subscales loading onto the factor. The cognitive subscale of the ASI-3 had the strongest loading on this factor, followed by negative beliefs about worry, and ASI-3 physical concerns. These findings demonstrate that marked similarities exist in the constructs that make up the subscales of the ASI-3 and MCQ-30. Further, the findings suggest that dysfunctional metacognitions may be another aspect of the proposed common core cognitive vulnerability. Implications for treatment and future research will be discussed.