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Behavioral Therapy Effective for Health Anxiety

FRIDAY, Oct. 18 (HealthDay News) -- Cognitive behavioral therapy is effective in reducing excessive health anxiety compared with standard care, with similar costs at two years, according to a study published online Oct. 18 in The Lancet.

Peter Tyrer, F.Med.Sci., from Imperial College in London, and colleagues randomly assigned 444 people (16 to 75 years old) with excessive health anxiety to adapted cognitive behavior therapy or standard care.

At one year, the researchers found that the cognitive behavior therapy group had a significant improvement in health anxiety symptoms, with significantly more achieving normal levels of health anxiety (13.9 versus 7.3 percent; odds ratio, 2.15). Similar differences were sustained at two years, with reductions in generalized anxiety and depression, but no differences were seen in social functioning or health-related quality of life. There were with no significant differences in total cost at two years.

"This form of adapted cognitive behavior therapy for health anxiety led to sustained symptomatic benefit over two years, with no significant effect on total costs," Tyrer and colleagues conclude.

Two study authors developed cognitive behavioral treatment for health anxiety and one is the author of a book describing it in practice.

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