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An exploration of worry content and catastrophic thinking in middle-aged and older-aged adults with and without Parkinson's disease

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)376-383
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2015

King's Authors


OBJECTIVE: Worry is a common and distressing problem in Parkinson's disease (PD). However, little is known about the nature and content of worry in PD and how it might differ to non-PD populations. The study aimed to explore the content and nature of worry in middle-aged and older-aged adults with and without PD.

METHOD: Four groups of participants, 20 PD patients (10 high worry and 10 low worry) and 19 middle-aged and older-aged adults (10 high worry and nine low worry), completed the catastrophising interview (CI) for three worry topics. Worriers were classified (high/low) on the basis of Penn State Worry Questionnaire scores. Data were analysed using framework analysis.

RESULTS: High worriers showed a greater diversity of worry topics than low worriers. Health worries differentiated high and low worriers in the non-PD sample but were common across all PD participants. The CI revealed that the root concern of worry was often different to that initially described. In particular, PD high worriers were more likely to express underlying concerns about negative self-perception and death/severe incapacity.

CONCLUSION: The CI was able to identify the root cause of worry, demonstrating the value of this technique in the exploration and treatment of worry and psychological distress. Exploring worry content may help to distinguish patients with problematic worry, with worries about self-perception and death/severe incapacity characteristic of high worriers. Therapeutic interventions designed to alleviate problematic worry and distress in PD need to take account of the realities of living with PD and the potentially realistic nature of worries that may appear catastrophic in a healthy population.

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