The Relationship Between Health Anxiety and Thought-Action Fusion

  • Kellie Henricks MacEwan University


Individuals with health anxiety (HA) frequently believe that they have a serious illness, or may develop a serious illness, despite having no clear medical issues. HA has been found to be comorbid with both obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Underlying cognitive distortions associated with these disorders may help explain their overlap. One cognitive distortion that has previously been found in OCD and GAD is thought-action fusion (TAF). TAF consists of Likelihood-Self TAF, Likelihood-Other TAF, and Moral TAF. Likelihood TAF is the belief that if you think about an event it will make the event more likely to occur, either to yourself (Likelihood-Self) or to someone else (Likelihood-Other). Moral TAF is the belief that an immoral thought is equivalent to an immoral behaviour. The present study used self-report questionnaires to assess the relationships between HA, OCD, GAD, and TAF in a non-clinical university sample (N=230). Using hierarchical regression analyses, Likelihood-Self TAF, p < .001, and Likelihood-Other TAF p < .001, uniquely predicted HA when controlling for OCD and GAD symptoms. Moral TAF, p = .26, was not a unique predictor of HA. These results indicate that both researchers and clinicians may wish to further explore the role of Likelihood TAF in the development and maintenance of HA.

Discipline: Psychology (Honours)

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Alexander Penney