Differential fear of cardiopulmonary sensations in emergency room noncardiac chest pain patients

J Behav Med. 2001 Apr;24(2):155-67. doi: 10.1023/a:1010710614626.


Fear of bodily sensations has received extensive attention in relation to panic disorder, and more recently, other types of anxiety pathology and chronic pain problems. Extending this work, the present study examined fear of bodily sensations and its underlying dimensions in emergency room patients with Noncardiac Chest Pain (NCCP; n = 63). We posited a "differential specificity" hypothesis, expecting that specific cardiopulmonary fears would be more strongly associated with NCCP symptoms relative to other bodily fears. As hypothesized, participants reported cardiopulmonary sensations as significantly more fear-provoking than numbness, dissociation, and gastrointestinal sensations. Additionally, regression analysis indicated that after accounting for theoretically relevant demographic variables and health status, cardiopulmonary fear was the best predictor of a composite index of cardiac complaints intensity, even after removing variance related to the absolute number of cardiac complaints. We discuss these findings in relation to the specific role for the fear of cardiopulmonary sensations in chest pain complaints, with implications for better understanding the underlying psychological processes involved in NCCP.

MeSH terms

  • Chest Pain / physiopathology
  • Chest Pain / psychology*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Fear / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain Measurement / psychology*
  • Panic Disorder / psychology
  • Patients / psychology*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Sensation / physiology*