[Preliminary validation of the French translation of anxiety sensibility index-revised (ASI-R)]

M Bouvard, A Ayxères-Vighetto, H Dupont, J Aupetit, S Portalier, W Arrindell
L'Encéphale 2003, 29 (2): 157-64
Anxiety sensitivity represents a stimulus-outcome expectancy that reflects individual differences in the propensity to experience fear in response to one's arousal-related bodily sensations. It refers to the fear of anxiety-related symptoms that are based on beliefs that such sensations have negative somatic, social or psychological consequences. Anxiety sensitivity occupies an important place in theory and research on panic and related interoceptive fear disorders. Findings from this body of research indicate that this construct may act as a specific vulnerability variable in the development of panic attacks and anxiety symptoms. However, anxiety sensitivity theory also has been applied to understanding mood disorders and chronic pain disorders. Thus, as a psychological construct, anxiety sensitivity holds specific relevance to understanding panic disorders and general relevance for expanding knowledge about negative emotional functioning in other pathologies. All the research on anxiety sensitivity has been completed with the 16-item Anxiety Sensitivity Index (ASI). The review of the literature using this instrument suggested that anxiety sensitivity has three lower-order factors that all load on a single higher-order factor. The lower-order factors represent Physical-Concerns, Mental Incapacitation Concerns, and Social Concerns, and the higher-order factor represents the global anxiety sensitivity construct (21). Taylor and Cox (22) suggested that this questionnaire was not designed on an a priori basis to measure the identified lower-order factors. The low number of items for the Social and Mental Incapacitation dimensions of the 16-item ASI often leads to relatively lower levels of reliability compared to the third dimension. To address this issue, Taylor and Cox (22) developed an expanded measure of the anxiety sensitivity construct. The 36-item Revised Anxiety Sensitivity Index (ASI-R) maintains the same format as the 16-item ASI, but expands the number of content domains assessed. The ASI-R was designed to assess 6 lower-order domains identified in previous factor analytic research using the 16-item ASI (21), including fear of cardiovascular symptoms, fear of respiratory symptoms, fear of gastrointestinal symptoms, fear of publicity observable reactions, fear of dissociative and neurological symptoms, and fear of cognitive dyscontrol. The principal components factor analysis using the ASI-R among psychiatric outpatients indicated that there were 4 lower-order factors tapping the constructs of (1) fear of respiratory symptoms, (2) fear of publicly observable anxiety reactions, (3) fear of cardiovascular symptoms, and (4) fear of cognitive dyscontrol (22). A recent study (27) provided an initial psychometric evaluation of the ASI-R in a large, diverse sample of people (n = 2,786) from 6 different countries: Canada, United States, Mexico, Spain, The Netherlands and France. The data suggested that the two-factor solution is most replicable than other solutions (2 to 6 factors). The underlying structure of the anxiety sensitivity construct was generally similar across countries, tapping fear about the negative consequences of anxiety-related physical and social-cognitive sensations. Lower-order factors were moderately to strongly correlated with one another and showed good internal consistency. This manuscript presents the French translation of the ASI-R and a preliminary validation study. This research was realized conjointly with the transcultural study previously mentioned (27). Seven hundred and one French university students (non-clinical participants) completed the questionnaire at the beginning of a class. Subjects were undergraduate students from 2 universities (psychology and classics). Table I provides age, sex and marital status. There were no differences between the two groups on sex. The two groups were not comparable on age and marital status. The psychology group was older than the other was. The psychology students were also more married. The total group (n = 701) comprises 79 men and 622 women, with a mean age of 21.29 (4.85). Table II provides the normative means and standard deviations for both groups of students. There was no difference between the two groups on the total of the questionnaire (no significant interaction between group and age). In regard to the physical concerns subscale and the social-cognitive concerns subscale, there was also no significant interaction between group and age. Assessment of the internal consistency of the ASI-R yielded an overall Cronbach alpha of 0.91 for the entire questionnaire, with an alpha of 0.88 for the fear of anxiety-related physical sensations subscale and 0.83 for the fear of anxiety-related social-cognitive sensations subscale. A series of ANOVAs between male and female groups revealed significant gender differences. As shown in table IV, women had significantly higher total score than did men. They also had significantly higher physical factor and social-cognitive factor scores than did men. This finding is consistent with research that indicates that women generally report more intense fears and men less intense fears, and that they differ in levels of overall anxiety sensitivity specifically (29). This preliminary report was the first attempt to examine the construct of anxiety sensitivity using the ASI-R in a French university students. It can serve as a reference point for future research.

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