Anxiety sensitivity dimensions in young individuals with at-risk-mental states

  • Andrea Pozza | Department of Medical Sciences, Surgery and Neurosciences, University of Siena, Siena, Italy.
  • Anna Meneghelli Programma 2000 Center for Early Detection and Intervention in Psychosis, Department of Mental Health, Niguarda Ca’ Granda Hospital, Milan, Italy.
  • Maria Meliante Programma 2000 Center for Early Detection and Intervention in Psychosis, Department of Mental Health, Niguarda Ca’ Granda Hospital, Milan, Italy.
  • Luisa Amato Programma 2000 Center for Early Detection and Intervention in Psychosis, Department of Mental Health, Niguarda Ca’ Granda Hospital, Milan, Italy.
  • Davide Dèttore Department of Health Sciences, University of Florence, Florence, Italy.


Anxiety Sensitivity (AS) is a transdiagnostic risk factor involved in the development and maintenance of different psychopathological conditions including anxiety disorders and psychosis. It consists of Physical Concerns (e.g., the belief that palpitations lead to a cardiac arrest), Social Concerns (the belief that observable anxiety reactions will elicit social rejection), and Cognitive Concerns (the belief that cognitive difficulties lead to mental incapacitation). No study investigated whether specific AS dimensions are related to At-Risk Mental States (ARMS). This study compared AS dimensions between young individuals with ARMS, patients after a recently occurred First-Episode Psychosis (FEP) and matched community controls. Based on models of ARMS and previous evidence, it was hypothesized that ARMS individuals have higher physical, social and cognitive concerns than FEP patients and controls. Thirty individuals with ARMS and 30 with FEP and 30 controls recruited from the general population completed the Anxiety Sensitivity Index-3 (ASI-3) and Penn State Worry Questionnaire. ARMS and FEP individuals had higher scores than controls on ASI-3 Cognitive Concerns [F(2,87)= 11.48, p<.001]. Individuals with ARMS had higher ASI-3 Physical Concerns scores than FEP patients [F(2,87)= 5.10, p<.01] and at a marginal significance level than controls. No between-group difference was found on Social Concerns. Higher ASI-3 Physical Concerns scores [B = -.324, Wald’s χ2(1) = 8.29, p < .01] and psychiatric comorbidities [B = -2.726, Wald’s χ2(1) = 9.33, p < .01] were significantly related to ARMS than FEP. Higher ASI-3 Social Concerns scores were related to FEP, despite at a marginal significance level [B =.213, Wald’s χ2(1) = 3.79, p = .052]. Interventions for AS Cognitive/Physical Concerns could be incorporated in the treatment of ARMS. A replication of the findings is required. Future longitudinal studies should examine whether Cognitive Concerns predict development of FEP in ARMS to improve early detection and prevention strategies.



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Special Section: Clinical high risk for mental illness
At-risk mental states, psychosis, anxiety sensitivity, cognitive bias, ultra-high risk of psychosis
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How to Cite
Pozza, A., Meneghelli, A., Meliante, M., Amato, L., & Dèttore, D. (2020). Anxiety sensitivity dimensions in young individuals with at-risk-mental states. Research in Psychotherapy: Psychopathology, Process and Outcome, 23(1).