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Journal article

Death beliefs, superstitious beliefs and health anxiety

James A, Wells A ...see all

British Journal of Clinical Psychology, vol. 41, issue 1 (2002) pp. 43-53

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OBJECTIVES: The present study explored the association between beliefs about death, superstitious beliefs, and health anxiety. It was hypothesized that negative beliefs about death and superstitious beliefs would be positively correlated with health anxiety. Conversely, positive beliefs about death were hypothesized to be negatively correlated with health anxiety. DESIGN: A cross-sectional, correlational and multiple regression design was adopted. METHOD: A sample of 106 Roman Catholics and 197 Atheists completed a questionnaire measuring aspects of health anxiety, spiritual beliefs, and control variables consisting of demographics. RESULTS: Negative beliefs about death and superstitious beliefs were related to health anxiety within both the Roman Catholic and Atheist samples. The expected negative relationship between positive beliefs about death and health anxiety was not supported in either sample. Multiple regression analyses indicated that death beliefs and superstitious beliefs, in combination with background variables, significantly predicted health anxiety in the Roman Catholic sample. For Atheists, although death and superstitious beliefs were identified as significant predictors, when considered with other variables, the additional variance accounted for was not significant. CONCLUSIONS: Negative beliefs about death and superstitious beliefs appear to be positively associated with health anxiety. These types of beliefs may have the potential to offer a useful addition to cognitive-behavioural models of health anxiety.

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  • Abigail James

  • Adrian Wells

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