|Institution:||University of Manchester|
|Keywords:||Medically unexplained symptoms; somatoform disorder; habitual symptom reporting; attentional bias|
|Full text PDF:||http://www.manchester.ac.uk/escholar/uk-ac-man-scw:235311|
This thesis focusses on the role of attentional bias for health-threat information in theproduction and maintenance of medically unexplained symptoms, somatoform disordersand high levels of physical symptom reporting. It is comprised of three separate papers.Paper 1 was prepared for Clinical Psychology Review as a systematic review of theevidence concerning attentional bias for health–threat information in populationspresenting with somatoform/somatic symptom disorders and high levels of physicalsymptom reporting. From the 20 studies deemed relevant for review, it was concludedthat- although limited- the evidence indicated that a relationship existed betweenattentional bias for health-threat information and levels of physical symptom reporting.No robust evidence was found to establish whether this relationship was a casual one.Paper 2 was prepared for Journal of Abnormal Psychology and investigated whether anexogenous cueing task could be used to reduce presumed attentional bias for healththreatinformation in a sample of high symptom reporting students. The results showedan unexpected attentional avoidance of health-threat information at baseline, which thestudy manipulation unintentionally exacerbated. No change in levels of physicalsymptom reporting was noted between groups (attributed to a methodological error) but atrend in relatively greater anxiety for those who received the manipulation was noted. Itwas concluded that avoidance may be a key factor in high symptom reporting and thatthis merited further research.Paper 3 provided a critical reflection of Papers 1 and 2, as well as the research processas a whole. Implications for theory and clinical practice as well as future researchdirections were discussed.