Relations of anxiety sensitivity dimensions to nonsuicidal self-injury frequency and versatility among patients with substance use disorders

J Clin Psychol. 2019 Sep;75(9):1613-1625. doi: 10.1002/jclp.22784. Epub 2019 Apr 17.


Objective: Despite the theoretical and empirical relevance of anxiety sensitivity (AS) to nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI), few studies have investigated this association. This study examined the incremental validity of AS dimensions in NSSI frequency and versatility, above and beyond emotion dysregulation and relevant covariates (racial/ethnic background, negative affectivity). AS dimensions were expected to account for additional unique variance in NSSI outcomes.

Method: Participants included 204 patients (50.5% female) with substance use disorders in residential treatment.

Results: In this sample, 37.2% reported a history of NSSI. The hierarchical regression models revealed a unique positive association between AS social concerns and NSSI outcomes when adjusting for model variables. In contrast, AS physical concerns were uniquely negatively associated with NSSI outcomes.

Conclusion: Findings provide support for AS social concerns as a vulnerability for engagement in NSSI behaviors and highlight this particular AS dimension as a potential treatment target for NSSI prevention and intervention programs.

Keywords: anxiety sensitivity; emotion dysregulation; nonsuicidal self-injury; substance use disorders.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anxiety / epidemiology
  • Anxiety / physiopathology*
  • Comorbidity
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Self-Injurious Behavior / epidemiology
  • Self-Injurious Behavior / physiopathology*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Young Adult