Effects of threat context and cardiac sensitivity on fear responding to a 35% CO2 challenge: A test of the context-sensitivity panic vulnerability model

Michael J. Telch, Jasper A.J. Smits, Matt Brown, Mandy Dement, Mark B. Powers, Hanjoo Lee, Anushka Pai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

23 Scopus citations


The present study tested several predictions of a context-sensitivity panic vulnerability model emphasizing the interaction between threat context and threat sensitivities. Participants without a history of panic (N = 47) completed both global and domain-specific panic relevant sensitivity measures and were then randomized to undergo a 35% CO2 inhalation challenge in the presence or absence of a cardiac defibrillator (threat context). As predicted by the model, cardiac sensitivity (but not trait anxiety or anxiety sensitivity) potentiated the effects of the presence of the defibrillator on CO2 fear responding. Moreover, as predicted by the model, the observed potentiation effects of cardiac sensitivity on CO2 fear responding were mediated by participants' threat appraisals connected to the presence of the defibrillator. Theoretical and clinical implications are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)365-372
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2010



  • Anxiety sensitivity
  • Cardiac sensitivity
  • Context-sensitivity theory of panic
  • Panic attacks
  • Panic vulnerability
  • Theories of panic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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