Prospective Evaluations of Anxiety Sensitivity
Norman B. Schmidt Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences
Maller and Reiss ( 1992) concluded their longitudinal study of anxiety sensitivity (AS) by rhetorically raising the question, "With all the recent advances in the biological aspects of panic disorder, what could demonstrate better the continued importance of basic psychological research than evidence of cognitive risk factors?" (p. 246). Only 5 years later, AS appears to be one of the most promising cognitive risk factors in any area of psychopathology as well as one of the best researched risk factors for panic disorder. Prospective studies have played an important role in establishing AS as a risk factor. This chapter focuses on longitudinal studies of AS in both nonclinical and anxiety disordered populations.
Anxiety sensitivity is distinguished from most other cognitive conceptualizations of anxiety and panic because AS is believed to be a stable, traitlike characteristic that may precede the development of panic attacks. Individual differences in AS are hypothesized to emerge from a variety of experiences that ultimately lead to the acquisition of beliefs about potentially aversive conse-