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Research Article

Group cognitive and behavioural treatment for hypochondriasis.

BMJ 1991; 303 doi: (Published 16 November 1991) Cite this as: BMJ 1991;303:1229
  1. R Stern,
  2. M Fernandez
  1. St Helier Hospital, Carshalton, Surrey.


    OBJECTIVE--To assess the feasibility of carrying out group cognitive and behavioural treatment for hypochondriasis in a general hospital setting. DESIGN--Assessment of patients referred for therapy. SETTING--District general hospital. PATIENTS--Six patients aged 35 to 55 (mean 43) years with a mean duration of symptoms of 12 years who fulfilled the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM III-R) criteria for hypochondriasis. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES--Number of visits to their doctors, time spent thinking about illness, and scores on the hospital anxiety and depression scales. RESULTS--The mean number of visits to a doctor fell significantly after treatment (3 before treatment v 0.8 after treatment; p = 0.03) as did the time spent thinking about illness (57.3 v 40.6; p = 0.14). The depression and anxiety scores also fell, although the differences were not significant (depression: 9.5 before v 8.5 after; anxiety: 13 before v 12 after). CONCLUSION--It is feasible to carry out group cognitive and behavioural treatment in patients with hypochondriasis, and controlled studies are now indicated.