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Internet-delivered exposure-based cognitive–behavioural therapy and behavioural stress management for severe health anxiety: randomised controlled trial

  • Erik Hedman (a1), Erland Axelsson (a2), Anders Görling (a2), Carina Ritzman (a2), Markus Ronnheden (a2), Samir El Alaoui (a3), Erik Andersson (a3), Mats Lekander (a4) and Brjánn Ljótsson (a5)...
Abstract
Background

Exposure-based cognitive–behavioural therapy (CBT) delivered via the internet has been shown to be effective for severe health anxiety (hypochondriasis) but has not been compared with an active, effective and credible psychological treatment, such as behavioural stress management (BSM).

Aims

To investigate two internet-delivered treatments – exposure-based CBT v. BSM – for severe health anxiety in a randomised controlled trial (trial registration: NCT01673035).

Method

Participants (n = 158) with a principal diagnosis of severe health anxiety were allocated to 12 weeks of exposure-based CBT (n = 79) or BSM (n = 79) delivered via the internet. The Health Anxiety Inventory (HAI) was the primary outcome.

Results

Internet-delivered exposure-based CBT led to a significantly greater improvement on the HAI compared with BSM. However, both treatment groups made large improvements on the HAI (pre-to-post-treatment Cohen's d: exposure-based CBT, 1.78; BSM, 1.22).

Conclusions

Exposure-based CBT delivered via the internet is an efficacious treatment for severe health anxiety.

Declarations of interest

None.

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Copyright
Corresponding author
Dr Erik Hedman, Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet, Retzius väg 8, SE-171 77 Stockholm, Sweden. Email: kire.hedman@ki.se
References
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Internet-delivered exposure-based cognitive–behavioural therapy and behavioural stress management for severe health anxiety: randomised controlled trial

  • Erik Hedman (a1), Erland Axelsson (a2), Anders Görling (a2), Carina Ritzman (a2), Markus Ronnheden (a2), Samir El Alaoui (a3), Erik Andersson (a3), Mats Lekander (a4) and Brjánn Ljótsson (a5)...
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