Journal of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 41, Issue 1, pp 43–51 | Cite as

Somatic symptom severity among primary care patients who are obese: examining the unique contributions of anxiety sensitivity, discomfort intolerance, and health anxiety

  • Thomas A. Fergus
  • Christine A. Limbers
  • Jackson O. Griggs
  • Lance P. Kelley


Prior research indicates the common presentation of somatic symptoms and obesity in primary care settings, as well as links between obesity and somatic symptoms. Anxiety sensitivity, discomfort intolerance, and health anxiety are three variables relevant to somatic symptoms. How those three variables relate to somatic symptom severity among individuals who are obese and the unique variance accounted for by each variable in somatic symptom severity remains unexamined. Among a large sample of primary care patients who are obese (N = 342), anxiety sensitivity, discomfort intolerance, and health anxiety collectively accounted for 35% of variance in somatic symptom severity beyond the effects of sociodemographic variables, body mass index, medical morbidity, and depression severity. Health anxiety accounted for the largest amount of unique variance in somatic symptom severity, potentially supporting the relevance of health anxiety to the presentation of increased somatic symptoms among patients who are obese.


Anxiety sensitivity Discomfort intolerance Health anxiety Obesity Somatic symptoms 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

Thomas A. Fergus, Christine A. Limbers, Jackson O. Griggs, and Lance P. Kelley declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and animal rights and Informed consent

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas A. Fergus
    • 1
  • Christine A. Limbers
    • 1
  • Jackson O. Griggs
    • 2
  • Lance P. Kelley
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Psychology and NeuroscienceBaylor UniversityWacoUSA
  2. 2.Waco Family Medicine Residency ProgramHeart of Texas Community Health CenterWacoUSA

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