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The effect of heart focused anxiety on attentional bias in cardiac and non-cardiac patients


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Pettit, Kelly Louise 2010 , 'The effect of heart focused anxiety on attentional bias in cardiac and non-cardiac patients', Coursework Master thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Many patients in health settings, either with or without a medically verified
cardiovascular disease (CVD) experience a specific Heart Focused Anxiety (HFA),
characterised by cardiorespiratory pain, psychological distress and a belief that the
heart is faulty. In accordance with general models of anxiety and Eifert's (1992) HFA
model, this study aimed to examine whether HFA participants with or without CVD
displayed a content-specific attentional bias towards threatening cardiac stimuli and to
clarify if a number of commonly cited factors know to influence bias patterns are also
active in HFA. One hundred and seventy-eight participants were allocated to five
experimental groups (NoCVD-HighHFA, NoCVD-LowHFA, CVD-HighHFA, CVD
LowHFA and NoCVD-LowHFA-High Trait Anxiety). The groups completed a visual
probe task at two presentation levels, subliminal (<100ms) and supraliminal (1000ms),
and responded to seven types of stimulus words (Heart-High Threat, Heart-Moderate
Threat, Heart-High Positive, Social-High Threat, Social-High Positive, Disaster-High
Threat and Neutral). Overall, the results support the presence of a content-specific
attentional bias towards threatening cardiac material relative to other word types in
high HFA individuals with or without CVD at both levels of processing. A similar bias
pattern was documented in CVD participants with low HFA. This can be contrasted
with the healthy control (NoCVD-LowHFA) and the Hight Trait Anxious (NoCVD
LowHFA-HTA) groups who did not display this pattern. Unexpectedly, a bias towards
positive information consistent with a protective attentional strategy to manage
negative affect previously documented in the elderly was also displayed. The study's
results provide evidence to support the HFA model (Eifert et al., 2000b) and the
application of a Cognitive Behavioural approach in the treatment of HFA.

Item Type: Thesis - Coursework Master
Authors/Creators:Pettit, Kelly Louise
Copyright Holders: The Author
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Copyright 2010 the author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright
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Available for use in the Library and copying in accordance with the Copyright Act 1968, as amended. Thesis (MPsych(Clin))--University of Tasmania, 2010. Includes bibliographical references

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