Cognitive Mechanisms Underlying the Link Between Anxiety, Health Behaviors, and Illness Outcomes: Commentary on a Special Issue

  • Aliza T. SteinEmail author
  • Slaton Z. Freeman
  • Jasper A. J. Smits
Original Article


This commentary synthesizes research examining cognitive mechanisms underlying the links between anxiety, health behaviors, and illness outcomes. We provide a brief summary of contributions to this special issue and review common themes and methodological limitations. Notably, a number of related constructs emerged as amplification factors, increasing vulnerability to psychopathology and maladaptive health behaviors. These include anxiety sensitivity, distress and discomfort intolerance, emotion regulation, health literacy, and repetitive negative thinking. Finally, we discuss clinical implications, and conclude with suggestions for further research in this area.


Anxiety Health behaviors Transdiagnostic 



Jasper Smits receives funding from the NIH and has received monetary compensation for his work as consultant to Microtransponder, Inc. and Aptinyx, Inc. He also received royalties from various book publishers.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Slaton Freeman and Aliza Stein declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Informed Consent

Not applicable. This article does not contain any studies with human participants performed by any of the authors.

Animal Rights

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyThe University of Texas at AustinAustinUSA

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