Nausea in specific phobia of vomiting

Behav Sci (Basel). 2013 Aug 15;3(3):445-58. doi: 10.3390/bs3030445. eCollection 2013 Sep.


Specific phobia of vomiting (SPOV) is a clinical condition with early onset, chronic course and substantial psychosocial impairment due to a rigorous avoidance behavior. A primary symptom which drives patients to consult a medical practitioner is nausea. In this study our aim was to further analyze this symptom of SPOV and examined its role in the development and manifestation of the phobia. We conducted an internet survey in the german SPOV-internet-forum. We calculated a nausea score and grouped participants in a high-and low-nausea group to examine the relationship between nausea and characteristics of the fear of vomiting. In this sample (N = 131), nausea was fairly common in most participants with fear of vomiting. Participants in the high-nausea group had significantly higher ratings of subjective fear and significantly longer duration of fear of vomiting. Additionally, the high-nausea group contained more participants with a body mass index below 19 than the low-nausea group. The present findings suggest that nausea is a core symptom in SPOV which is closely related to intensity of the fear, duration of the fear, and body weight. Future research should investigate if nausea-specific design of treatment could improve therapy outcome.

Keywords: emetophobia; nausea; specific phobia of vomiting.