New study investigating the role of Metacognitive Beliefs, Symptom Severity, and Cognitive Behavioural Factors in Social Anxiety & Work Status

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Research Feature: Social Anxiety and Work Status: The Role of Negative Metacognitive Beliefs, Symptom Severity and Cognitive-Behavioural Factors (Nordahl & Wells, 2017)

Psychological health has a profound effect on personal and occupational functioning with Social Anxiety Symptoms in particular having a major effect on ability to work. Recent initiatives have focused on treating psychological illness with cognitive-behavioural models with a view to increasing return to work. However, the psychological correlates of work status amongst individuals with elevated mental health symptoms such as social anxiety are under-explored. This study reports a test of unique predictors of work status drawing on variables that have been given centre stage in cognitive-behavioural models and in the metacognitive model of psychological disorder. The sample consisted of high socially anxious individuals who reported working (n=102) or receiving disability benefits (n=102). A comparison of these groups showed that those out of work and receiving benefits had greater symptom severity, higher avoidance and use of safety behaviours, greater self-consciousness, and elevated negative metacognitive beliefs and beliefs about the need to control thoughts. However, when the covariance’s between these variables were controlled only negative metacognitive beliefs significantly predicted out-of-work status. These findings might be important because CBT does not focus on metacognitive beliefs, but targets components that in our analysis had no unique predictive value for work status.