Relationship between anxiety sensitivity and post-traumatic stress symptoms in trauma-exposed adults: A meta-analysis

Henry Tak Shing Chiu, Debbie Chi Wing Low, Angel Hiu Tung Chan, Richard Meiser-Stedman

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Given the high rate of trauma exposure among the general population, it is important to delineate the risk factors for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). While historically implicated in panic disorder, anxiety sensitivity is increasingly found to play a role in PTSD. The present review investigated the size of the relationship between anxiety sensitivity and PTSD symptoms among trauma exposed adults. A systematic search on multiple electronic databases (PTSDpubs, CINAHL, MEDLINE and PsycINFO) generated a total of 1025 records, among which 52 (n = 15173) met study inclusion criteria and were included in our random effects meta-analysis. Our results indicated a medium effect size (r =.46, 95% CI =.41,.50) for the relationship between anxiety sensitivity and PTSD symptoms. There was significant between-study heterogeneity. Furthermore, sub-group analyses revealed that study design (cross-sectional vs. longitudinal) may significantly moderate the association between anxiety sensitivity and PTSD severity. No moderation effect was found for assessment of PTSD through interview versus questionnaire, interpersonal versus non-interpersonal trauma, or low versus high study quality. Such patterns of results are consistent with cognitive models of PTSD. Clinical implications, strengths and limitations of the review were discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Article number102857
JournalJournal of Anxiety Disorders
Early online date9 Mar 2024
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2024


  • Anxiety sensitivity
  • Meta-analysis
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder

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