Illness-specific catastrophic thinking and overperception in asthma

Health Psychol. 2008 Jan;27(1):93-9. doi: 10.1037/0278-6133.27.1.93.


Objective: This study investigated the role of illness-specific catastrophic thinking in symptom perception in asthma.

Design and main outcome measures: A total sample of 72 patients with intermittent to moderate persistent asthma completed the Catastrophizing about Asthma Scale and completed the Asthma Symptom Checklist to measure retrospective symptom reporting. In addition, symptoms were concurrently assessed during different respiratory challenges eliciting mild and ambiguous versus salient and pronounced symptoms.

Results: Catastrophic thinking in general, when patients are not having an exacerbation, is related to an increase in emotional symptoms, especially in ambiguous situations where respiratory difficulties could occur. Catastrophic thinking during exacerbations is related to an increase in emotional symptoms as well as in respiratory symptoms during respiratory challenges.

Conclusion: These strong relationships between catastrophic thinking and increased perception of asthma symptoms suggest a link between illness-specific catastrophic thinking and overperception. Consequently, catastrophic thoughts are an important target for psychological interventions in support of drug treatment.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anxiety*
  • Asthma / physiopathology
  • Asthma / psychology*
  • Belgium
  • Fear*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Thinking*