Research Study Aims to Help Sufferers of Fear of Vomiting

Local researcher leads study using cognitive-behavioral therapy to treat emetophobia

ESCONDIDO, California, August 20, 2013 — Specific Phobia of Vomiting (SPOV), also known as emetophobia, is an often-debilitating condition. It is estimated that approximately 8 percent of the population worldwide has a fear of vomiting. Although millions suffer from the disorder, little research has been done to study effective treatment. Lori Riddle-Walker, a doctoral candidate at Argosy University-San Diego and a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Escondido, Calif., is conducting the first randomized controlled trial of cognitive-behavioral therapy in the treatment of SPOV.

Emetophobia is a chronic, complex disorder that can have a severe impact on the sufferer’s quality of life. This phobia often co-occurs with depression, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, or other phobias. Common avoidances, such as limiting public transportation, staying away from children, refusing to attend social or family events where there is drinking, staying away from ill family members or coworkers, or avoiding starting a family due to the potential for morning sickness, can interfere with relationships, work productivity, and overall life satisfaction.

Disturbed eating to the point of significant weight loss or avoiding medical treatments that cause nausea or vomiting are some ways SPOV can even be life-threatening.

Emetophobia has not been given significant attention by the research and treatment community. Many doctors and therapists are unfamiliar with emetophobia, leaving sufferers to educate their mental-health provider. This research study seeks to help change that.

“Establishing and validating proper treatment for emetophobia is long overdue,” says Riddle-Walker. “The study is an important step toward understanding how to treat this challenging condition. I’m thrilled to be part of the journey.”

To learn more about the research study, visit