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A taxometric analysis of health anxiety

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  19 May 2008

E. Ferguson*
Risk Analysis, Social Processes and Health (RASPH) Group, School of Psychology, University of Nottingham, UK
*Address for correspondence: Professor E. Ferguson, Risk Analysis, Social Processes and Health (RASPH) Group, School of Psychology, University of Nottingham, Nottingham NG7 2RD, UK. (Email:



A long-standing issue in the health anxiety literature is the extent to which health anxiety is a dimensional or a categorical construct. This study explores this question directly using taxometric procedures.


Seven hundred and eleven working adults completed an index of health anxiety [the Whiteley Index (WI)] and indicated their current health status. Data from those who were currently healthy (n=501) and receiving no medical treatment were examined using three taxometric procedures: mean above minus below a cut (MAMBAC), maximum eigenvalue (MAXEIGEN) and L-mode factor analysis (L-MODE).


Graphical representations (comparing actual to simulated data) and fit indices indicate that health anxiety is more accurately represented as a dimensional rather than a categorical construct.


Health anxiety is better represented as a dimensional construct. Implications for theory development and clinical practice are examined.

Original Articles
Copyright © 2008 Cambridge University Press

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