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J Anxiety Disord. 2007;21(1):42-58. Epub 2006 May 2.

Gastrointestinal-focused panic attacks among Cambodian refugees: associated psychopathology, flashbacks, and catastrophic cognitions.

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Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Department of Psychiatry, 15 Parkman Street, WACC 812 Boston, USA. <>


Among Cambodian refugees attending a psychiatric clinic, we assessed psychopathology associated with gastrointestinal panic (GIP), and investigated possible causal mechanisms, including "fear of fear" and GIP-associated flashbacks and catastrophic cognitions. GIP (n=46) patients had greater psychopathology (Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale [CAPS] and Symptom Checklist-90-R [SCL]) and "fear of fear" (Anxiety Sensitivity Index [ASI]) than did non-GIP patients (n=84). Logistic regression revealed that general psychopathology (SCL; odds ratio=4.1) and fear of anxiety-related sensations (ASI; odds ratio=2.4) predicted the presence of GIP. Among GIP patients, a hierarchical regression revealed that GIP-associated trauma recall and catastrophic cognitions explained variance in GIP severity beyond a measure of general psychopathology (SCL). A mediational analysis indicated that SCL's effect on GIP severity was mediated by GIP-associated flashbacks and catastrophic cognitions.

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