The role of bibliotherapy in health anxiety: an experimental study

Br J Community Nurs. 2002 Oct;7(10):498-504. doi: 10.12968/bjcn.2002.7.10.10662.


Despite its high prevalence and implications for health care resources, health anxiety is generally considered difficult and expensive to manage. Structured self-help materials (bibliotherapy) using a cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) treatment approach have been shown to be clinically effective. This experimental study investigated the effects of bibliotherapy on patients who had been identified as demonstrating health concerns. The 40 participants (patients drawn from GP surgeries) were randomly allocated to two groups, one receiving bibliotherapy and the other not. Half the patients had a medically diagnosed problem. Anxiety was assessed before and after the bibliotherapy intervention, which took the form of a cognitive-behavioural self-help booklet for health anxiety sufferers. Patients in the bibliotherapy group showed reduced levels of anxiety at post-test, even when they also had an identifiable physical problem. These results are consistent with the idea that self-help materials can be an effective and accessible intervention in CBT, although further research is recommended.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • Anxiety Disorders / diagnosis
  • Anxiety Disorders / psychology*
  • Anxiety Disorders / therapy*
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Bibliotherapy / methods*
  • Fear
  • Health Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Pamphlets
  • Patient Education as Topic / methods*
  • Self Care / methods*
  • Self Care / psychology
  • Teaching Materials / standards
  • Treatment Outcome