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The concept of 'hypochondriasis' is examined and an alternative cognitive-behavioural approach to health preoccupation is proposed. Avoidance behaviour (reassurance seeking and checking bodily status) is suggested as an important maintaining factor. In two single case experiments, short-and long-term effects of medical reassurance are assessed in 'hypochondriacal' patients; results are fully consistent with the model. Treatment designed to eliminate reassurance and hence to facilitate self-directed exposure and cognitive change proved rapidly effective. © 1986.

Original publication




Journal article


Behaviour Research and Therapy

Publication Date





597 - 602