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Br J Psychiatry. 1990 Sep;157:404-9.

Hypochondriasis and somatosensory amplification.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA.


A self-report questionnaire completed by 177 out-patients showed that hypochondriasis and amplification had a zero-order correlation of 0.56, and in stepwise multiple regression amplification accounted for 31% of the variance in hypochondriasis, after sociodemographic variables had been accounted for. Fears of ageing and death, and a childhood history of illness in the family, increased the R2 to 0.50. Amplification was more powerful in women than in men and was also a significant (although weaker) correlate of somatisation, explaining 12% of the variance. Somatisation also correlated with being female, the propensity to seek medical care, and a diminished sense of efficacy over one's health. Our findings are consistent with the possibility that somatosensory amplification occurs in hypochondriasis.

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