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J Behav Ther Exp Psychiatry. 2010 Dec;41(4):365-72. doi: 10.1016/j.jbtep.2010.03.008. Epub 2010 Mar 31.

Effects of threat context and cardiac sensitivity on fear responding to a 35% CO2 challenge: a test of the context-sensitivity panic vulnerability model.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Laboratory for the Study of Anxiety Disorders, The University of Texas at Austin, 1 University Station, Mail Code A8000, Austin, TX 78712, USA.


The present study tested several predictions of a context-sensitivity panic vulnerability model emphasizing the interaction between threat context and threat sensitivities. Participants without a history of panic (N=47) completed both global and domain-specific panic relevant sensitivity measures and were then randomized to undergo a 35% CO2 inhalation challenge in the presence or absence of a cardiac defibrillator (threat context). As predicted by the model, cardiac sensitivity (but not trait anxiety or anxiety sensitivity) potentiated the effects of the presence of the defibrillator on CO2 fear responding. Moreover, as predicted by the model, the observed potentiation effects of cardiac sensitivity on CO2 fear responding were mediated by participants' threat appraisals connected to the presence of the defibrillator. Theoretical and clinical implications are discussed.

2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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