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Grill, Eva; Schäffler, Florian; Huppert, Doreen; Müller, Martin; Kapfhammer, Hans-Peter; Brandt, Thomas (2014): Self-Efficacy Beliefs Are Associated with Visual Height Intolerance: A Cross-Sectional Survey.
In: PLOS ONE 9(12), e116220


Background: Responses to height may range from indifference to minor distress to severe symptoms of fear of heights (acrophobia); visual height intolerance (vHI) denotes the whole spectrum of symptoms. Although there are options to manage vHI, only a small part of persons affected by vHI are willing to seek professional help or confront their problem. Purpose of this study was to determine if persons with vHI, specifically those who show avoidant behavior towards heights (avoiders), score lower in their general self-efficacy (GSE) than those who confront vHI (confronters). Method: Cross-sectional survey in 607 individuals living in the urban region of Munich, Germany, using a mailed questionnaire on presence or absence of vHI, confronting or avoiding behaviour, and GSE. Results: Of all participants (mean age 53.9, 50.3% female), 407 reported life-time presence of vHI. Participants with vHI had a mean GSE score of 31.8 (SD 4.3) points (participants without vHI: 32.5, SD 4.3, p = 0.008 for difference). Among individuals with vHI, 23% reported confronting behavior. Confronters were significantly younger (p<.0001, 50.2 vs. 55.7 years), more likely to be female (p=0.0039, 64.3% female), and had a higher GSE score (p=0.0049, 32.5 vs. 31.1). Associations remained significant after multiple adjustment. Conclusions: Our study provides evidence for the association of GSE and vHI. These findings may have consequences for strategies of alleviation and therapy of vHI.