Although fear of death has been linked to hypochondriasis, the relationship of this fear to the disorder has received little study. To address this deficiency, we administered a fear of death scale along with measures of hypochondriasis, including the Whiteley Index and Somatic Symptom Inventory, to 162 general medical outpatients. Partial correlations, controlling for age, between the fear of death scale and both the Whiteley Index and Somatic Symptom Inventory were strongly positive. A factor analysis of the fear of death scale yielded three dimensions—fear of dying, loss of meaning, and fear of separation—that were also highly correlated with hypochondriasis. Fear of death and hypochondriasis showed comparable relationships to age and gender as well as to personality dimensions measured by the NEO Five-Factor Inventory. Fear of death appears to be an integral part of hypochondriasis. Its presence lends support to three models of hypochondriasis—the perceptual, existential, and interpersonal—that correspond to the dimensions of fear of death.
1 Department of Psychiatry, University of Iowa, College of Medicine, Psychiatry Research, Medical Education Building, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1000. Send reprint requests to Dr. Russell Noyes, Jr.