Chapman, A, Poliakoff, E, Chew-Graham, CA and Brown, RJ (2018) Attending away from the body predicts increased physical symptom reports at six months in primary care patients. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 113. 81 - 88. ISSN 1879-1360

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Objective High symptom reporting (HSR) and medically unexplained symptoms (MUS) are associated with considerable distress, disability, healthcare utilization and costs, but are poorly understood, and current treatments are of limited benefit. Most models of HSR and MUS implicate cognitive-perceptual factors, such as increased body-focused attention, reduced perceptual thresholds and a tendency to experience somatic misperception, but little is known about the causal role of these variables. We investigated this issue by studying whether there is a longitudinal relationship between perceptual-attentional variables and later clinical outcomes in primary care patients. Method Primary care patients (N = 102) completed clinical (physical symptom reporting, health anxiety and healthcare utilization) and perceptual-attentional (body-focused attention, perceptual threshold, somatic misperception) measures at baseline and then again six months later (N = 72). Hierarchical regression was used to examine cross-lagged relationships between baseline and follow-up scores. Results Contrary to expectation, attending away from the body at baseline predicted increased not decreased symptom reporting six months later. Neither perceptual threshold nor somatic misperception predicted clinical outcomes at six months. Conclusions These findings suggest that body avoidance, rather than increased body focus, contribute to the development of HSR. Future studies should consider the potential clinical benefits of reducing bodily avoidance, via techniques that promote adaptive engagement with bodily sensations.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: The final published version of this article can be accessed online at © 2018 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Uncontrolled Keywords: High symptom reporting; Medically unexplained symptoms; Health anxiety; Body-focused attention; Somatic misperception; Perceptual sensitivity
Subjects: R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine
Divisions: Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > Primary Care Health Sciences
Depositing User: Symplectic
Date Deposited: 10 Sep 2018 10:17
Last Modified: 06 Aug 2019 01:30

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