Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy

Outcome of Cognitive-Behavioural Treatment for Health Anxiety (Hypochondriasis) in a Routine Clinical Setting

Ulla Wattar a1c1, Per Sorensen a2, Iben Buemann a1, Morten Birket-Smith a2, Paul M. Salkovskis a3, Mette Albertsen a1 and Sisse Strange a1
a1 Kognitivt Psykologcenter, Copenhagen, Denmark
a2 Bispebjerg University Hospital, Copenhagen, Denmark
a3 Institute of Psychiatry, London, UK

Article author query
wattar u   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
sorensen p   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
buemann i   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
birket-smith m   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
salkovskis pm   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
albertsen m   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
strange s   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 


It has now been established in several randomized controlled trials that specialist cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) is an effective treatment for severe and persistent health anxiety (diagnostically, “Hypochondriasis”). It has not yet been established whether or not such results will generalize from academic research centres to routine clinical settings. The present study was designed to address the issue of generalization by evaluating the outcome of a consecutive series of patients meeting diagnostic criteria for hypochondriasis, treated using CBT in a non-academic clinic in Copenhagen, Denmark. The delivery of the treatment was adapted to fit with the practice of the clinic, so that the later components of therapy were delivered in a group therapy setting. Therapists participated in a brief training course, which was subsequently supplemented by expert clinical and peer supervision. Patients received the same amount of treatment used in previous clinical trials. Results indicate that the degree of improvement obtained in this study was significant and compared well with those obtained in the previous trials. These results support the use of dissemination of new treatments using a specialist training model.

Key Words: Health anxiety; hypochondriasis; cognitive behaviour therapy; dissemination study; effect study.

c1 Reprint requests to Utta Wattar, Kognitivt Psykologcenter, Holbergsgade 14, 4. sal, 1057 Copenhagen K, Denmark. E-mail: