Hypochondriasis (HC), which involves preoccupation with the fear of having a serious illness despite appropriate medical examination, is often encountered in medical settings. The most conspicuous feature of this disorder is seeking excessive reassurance from physicians, medical references, or self-inspection; however, many patients also fear they will receive upsetting information if evaluated and thus avoid consultations and remain preoccupied with physiologic events, believing they are physically ill. Thus, HC causes personal suffering for the patient and practical and cost management problems for professionals across fields of clinical practice. The past 2 decades have seen considerable improvement in the understanding and treatment of HC. In this article, we review a contemporary conceptual model of HC and an effective form of treatment called cognitive-behavioral therapy that is derived from this model. Recommendations for presenting this conceptualization to patients and encouraging proper treatment are also discussed.
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