The contribution of health anxiety to retrospectively-recalled emergency department visits within a sample of patients in residential substance abuse treatment

Cogn Behav Ther. 2015;44(1):1-8. doi: 10.1080/16506073.2014.946077. Epub 2014 Sep 22.


With the burden of emergency department (ED) use increasing, research examining the factors associated with ED visits among individuals who use the ED most frequently is needed. Given that substance use is strongly linked to ED visits, this study sought to examine the factors associated with greater ED visits among patients with substance use disorders (SUD). More precisely, we examined whether health anxiety incrementally contributes to the prediction of ED visits for medical care among adult patients (N = 118) in a residential substance abuse disorder treatment facility. As predicted, health anxiety was significantly positively correlated with ED visits during the past year. Furthermore, health anxiety remained a significant predictor of ED visits after accounting for sociodemographic variables, frequency of substance use, and physical health status. These results suggest that health anxiety may contribute to increased ED visits for medical care among individuals with SUD.

Keywords: emergency department; health anxiety; medical utilization; substance use; substance use disorders.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety / epidemiology*
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Inpatients / psychology
  • Inpatients / statistics & numerical data*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Residential Treatment*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / rehabilitation
  • Young Adult