Background. Causal attributions about bodily sensations may
determine help-seeking and influence
patients' demands for medical treatment. The present study aimed
to differentiate the causal
attributions associated with health-related and non-health-related
Methods. Anxious hypochondriacal, generally anxious, and
non-anxious general practice attenders
were compared on their propensity to give somatic, psychological or
normalizing attributions for
common bodily sensations, measured by number of each type of
attribution in a given time period
and the frequency of first response of each type.
Results. The groups differed in all three types of
attributions. Giving more psychological and fewer
normalizing attributions was related to general anxiety whereas
giving more somatic attributions
was related specifically to hypochondriasis.
Conclusions. Anxiety and hypochondriasis can be
distinguished in terms of their associated patterns
of attributions for bodily sensations, reinforcing the importance
of attributional processes and
interventions which use reattributional training.