Symptoms catastrophizing versus social hypervigilance in irritable bowel syndrome patients

Soc Work Health Care. 2012;51(8):743-56. doi: 10.1080/00981389.2012.701001.


Western studies have revealed that symptoms catastrophizing (SC), a self-focused illness coping pattern, mediates poorer health outcomes in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) patients. In light of the collective orientation of Chinese culture, an others-focused illness coping pattern named "symptoms-related social hypervigilance" (SSH) was constructed and explored together with SC in the current study. A cross-sectional questionnaire survey with 309 IBS patients recruited by 100% consecutive sampling was conducted. Exploratory factor analysis on the SSH scale provided a 9-item 3-factor solution. The three factors were 1) Anticipating negative perceptions from others; 2) Hiding symptoms in social situations; and 3) Assuming responsibility for total symptoms control. SC showed partial mediator properties between IBS symptoms severity and lowered health-related quality of life. Whereas SSH did not show similar mediating effects, it was associated with 'proactive' illness behaviors which, if excessive, can lead to relentless pursuit of total symptoms elimination.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adult
  • Anxiety / psychology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Disclosure
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome / psychology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Quality of Life
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Young Adult