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Psychol Bull. 2010 Jan;136(1):128-50. doi: 10.1037/a0018055.

Meta-analysis of the relations of anxiety sensitivity to the depressive and anxiety disorders.

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Department of Psychology, E11 Seashore Hall, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 52242-1407, USA.


There is a substantial literature relating the personality trait anxiety sensitivity (AS; tendency to fear anxiety-related sensations) and its lower order dimensions to the mood and anxiety (i.e., internalizing) disorders. However, particularly given the disorders' high comorbidity rates, it remains unclear whether AS is broadly related to these disorders or if it shows a pattern of differential relations. Meta-analyses of the concurrent relations of AS with the internalizing disorders were conducted based on 117 studies and 792 effect sizes. Mean Anxiety Sensitivity Index scores by diagnostic group and AS-symptom correlations both indicated that AS is most strongly related to panic, generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). More specific analyses were also conducted on (a) AS correlations with symptom dimensions within individual disorders and (b) correlations between lower order AS components and symptoms. The meta-analytic correlation matrix for higher order AS-disorder relations was submitted to path analysis, modeling latent Distress disorders and Fear disorders that control for much of the shared variance among the disorders. Results of the path analysis indicated that AS is broadly related to these disorders but that agoraphobia, GAD, panic, and PTSD have the strongest associations. In addition, AS was more strongly related to the latent distress disorders than the fear disorders. Because of the contemporaneous assessment of AS and internalizing disorders in these studies, the results should not be taken to mean that AS has a stronger casual association with certain disorders. Implications for concurrent AS-internalizing relations, interpretations of the AS construct, and structural models of personality and psychopathology are discussed.

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