Health anxiety and hypochondriasis : the patient's perspective : a thesis presented in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Psychology at Massey University, Albany, New Zealand
This qualitative study using a social constructionist epistemology looked at seven individuals' experiences of health anxiety and hypochondriasis. Participants were recruited using advertisements on local public notice boards, word of mouth and a published newspaper interview. Participants self-identified as having health anxiety or hypochondria and ranged between 18-64 years of age. There were three male and four female participants. A thematic narrative analysis was undertaken. Common themes that were identified were: childhood attachment styles, trauma, personal experience with illness, the function of health anxiety, health anxiety developing into adulthood, stigma of being labelled a hypochondriac, participants' positioning of self and others, participants' views on their doctors and communication styles. Also outlined were participants' recommendations for managing symptoms and coping with doctors' consultations. Implications include integrating attachment theories into therapy for health anxiety and working towards improving communication skills between medical doctors and health anxious and hypochondriacal patients.