Clinical Neuroscience

Health anxiety mediates the connection between somatosensory amplification and self-reported food sensitivity

ELIESON M. Linn, DÖMÖTÖR Zsuzsanna1, KÖTELES Ferenc2

SEPTEMBER 30, 2017

Clinical Neuroscience - 2017;70(09-10)


Background - The frequency of self-reported food sensitivity (SFS) is increasing, and has a negative impact on the well-being and everyday functioning of the affected people. A considerable proportion of SFS cannot be medically explained. The lack of knowledge of its origin and treatment causes further stress in those affected. Purpose - This study aims to get a better understanding of the psychological background of the condition. Methods - A non-representative community sample (N=335; age: 35.1±13.18 yrs; 75.8% female) completed an English on-line questionnaire assessing somatosensory amplification, health anxiety, modern health worries (MHWs), beliefs concerning the scientific validity of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), holistic beliefs on health and illness. Results - In multiple binary logistic regression analyses, SFS were associated with CAM related beliefs, somatosensory amplification, and health anxiety after controlling for age and gender. The connection between somatosensory amplification and SFS were completely mediated by health anxiety. No differences between the two groups were found with respect to MHWs, worries about the harmful effects of various artificial components in food, and holistic health beliefs. Discussion: More positive attitudes toward CAM might be based on the lack of conventional treatment, rather than on higher levels of MHWs or a more holistic worldview. Both the existence of symptoms and the presence of health anxiety might be needed for the development and maintenance of SFS. Conclusions - The findings support the notion that somatosensory amplification and health anxiety might play a role in the development and maintenance of SFS.


  1. Institute of Health Promotion and Sport Sciences and Doctoral School of Psychology, ELTE Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest
  2. Institute of Health Promotion and Sport Sciences, Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest



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