A randomized clinical trial of cognitive behavioural therapy versus short-term psychodynamic psychotherapy versus no intervention for patients with hypochondriasis.
Sørensen P., Birket-Smith M., Wattar U., Buemann I., Salkovskis P.
BACKGROUND: Hypochondriasis is common in the clinic and in the community. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) has been found to be effective in previous trials. Psychodynamic psychotherapy is a treatment routinely offered to patients with hypochondriasis in many countries, including Denmark. The aim of this study was to test CBT for hypochondriasis in a centre that was not involved in its development and compare both CBT and short-term psychodynamic psychotherapy (STPP) to a waiting-list control and to each other. CBT was modified by including mindfulness and group therapy sessions, reducing the therapist time required. STPP consisted of individual sessions. METHOD: Eighty patients randomized to CBT, STPP and the waiting list were assessed on measures of health anxiety and general psychopathology before and after a 6-month treatment period. Waiting-list patients were subsequently offered one of the two active treatments on the basis of re-randomization, and assessed on the same measures post-treatment. Patients were again assessed at 6- and 12-month follow-up points. RESULTS: Patients who received CBT did significantly better on all measures relative to the waiting-list control group, and on a specific measure of health anxiety compared with STPP. The STPP group did not significantly differ from the waiting-list group on any outcome measures. Similar differences were observed between CBT and STPP during follow-up, although some of the significant differences between groups were lost. CONCLUSIONS: A modified and time-saving CBT programme is effective in the treatment of hypochondriasis, although the two psychotherapeutic interventions differed in structure.