Psychophysiological assessment during exposure in driving phobic patients.J Abnorm Psychol. 2005 Feb; 114(1):126-39.JA
A comprehensive assessment of fear or anxiety requires measurement of both self-report and physiological responses. Respiratory abnormalities have been rarely examined during real-life exposure, although they are an integral part of fear. Twenty-one women with a specific driving phobia and 17 nonphobic women were psychophysiologically monitored during 2 highway-driving sessions; phobic women completed an additional session. Respiratory movements, end-tidal partial pressure of carbon dioxide, an electrocardiogram, skin conductance, and skin temperature were recorded. Phobic patients differed from control participants both physiologically and experientially before, during, and after exposure. Effect size during exposure was large for the authors' measure of hyperventilation. Discriminant analysis indicated that multiple physiological measures contributed nonredundant information and correctly classified 95% of phobic and control participants. Thus, selected respiratory and autonomic measures are valid diagnostic and therapeutic outcome criteria for this situational phobia.