Social anxiety and work status: the role of negative metacognitive beliefs, symptom severity and cognitive-behavioural factors
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionJournal of Mental Health. 2017. 10.1080/09638237.2017.1340622
Background: 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. Aims: 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. Methods: The sample consisted of high socially anxious individuals who reported to be working (n = 102) or receiving disability benefits (n = 102). Results: 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. Conclusions: Our finding 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.