Category: Adult Anxiety


Symposium 131 - Recent Advances in the Study of Anxiety Sensitivity Among Individuals With Medical Conditions

Sunday, November 19
9:45 AM - 10:45 AM
Location: Indigo Ballroom B, Level 2, Indigo Level

Keywords: Anxiety Sensitivity | Behavioral Medicine | Transdiagnostic
Presentation Type: Symposium

Anxiety sensitivity (AS) refers to the fear of and increased sensitivity to the physiological symptoms associated with anxiety (Reiss & McNally, 1985). While decades of research have demonstrated strong evidence for the link between AS and panic disorder (McNally, 2002), more recent studies have examined AS as a transdiagnostic factor across a wide range of mental and physical health issues, such as depression (Naragon-Gainey, 2010), substance use (Stewart & Kushner, 2001), and pain (Ocanez et al., 2010). Through this work, AS has been identified as a malleable vulnerability factor that can be targeted in treatment programs to prevent the development of anxiety pathology (Zalta, 2011) and reduce anxiety and associated outcomes (Smits et al., 2008). Despite the extensive literature on AS, much less is known about the interplay of AS and medical conditions.

Accordingly, this series of presentations aims to (1) describe research examining the role of AS in cardiovascular disease, epilepsy, and dermatology conditions, respectively, and (2) discuss implications for integrating the assessment and treatment of AS into diverse clinical settings. Importantly, physiological symptoms are integral to these aforementioned diseases and their symptom management; therefore, high AS may function to exacerbate medical and psychological symptoms, which in turn, may contribute to adverse health outcomes and affect disease burden. As such, the examination of AS in these chronic diseases can expand our understanding of the potential function of AS across an array of medical conditions. The first presentation describes AS among individuals with dermatology conditions, and data will be presented from a recent study investigating AS and quality of life in the domains of dermatology symptoms, general functioning, and psychological well-being. The second presentation focuses on the association between AS and cardiovascular disease. Specifically, findings from two studies will be described, wherein AS was examined in a sample of individuals at-risk for cardiovascular disease and a sample of patients with cardiovascular disease. Next, the third presentation examines AS in relation to seizure presence and epilepsy-related quality of life among adults with epilepsy. Finally, this symposium will conclude with remarks from the discussant, who will consider the findings in the broader context of CBT by highlighting the clinical implications for diverse medical populations and through discussing important next steps for researchers who seek to build upon this work.

Learning Objectives:

Laura J. Dixon

Assistant Professor
University of Mississippi


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Matthew T. Tull

University of Toledo


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    Samantha G. Farris

    Postdoctoral Fellow
    Alpert Medical School of Brown University, The Miriam Hospital, Centers for Behavioral and Preventative Medicine; Butler Hospital


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    Adrienne L. Johnson

    Graduate Student
    University of Cincinatti


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