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Attentional Bias Modification for Social Anxiety Disorder: What do Patients Think and Why does it Matter?

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  06 May 2018

Jennie M. Kuckertz
Affiliation:
San Diego State University/University of California, San Diego, Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology, San Diego, CA, USA
Casey A. Schofield
Affiliation:
Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, NY, USA
Elise M. Clerkin
Affiliation:
Miami University, Oxford, OH, USA
Jennifer Primack
Affiliation:
Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Providence, RI, USA and Providence Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Providence, RI, USA
Hannah Boettcher
Affiliation:
Boston University, Boston, MA, USA
Risa B. Weisberg
Affiliation:
VA Boston Healthcare System, Boston, MA, USA and Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, USA
Nader Amir
Affiliation:
San Diego State University/University of California, San Diego, Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology, San Diego, CA, USA
Courtney Beard
Affiliation:
McLean Hospital, Belmont, MA, USA and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA
Corresponding
E-mail address:

Abstract

Background: In the past decade, a great deal of research has examined the efficacy and mechanisms of attentional bias modification (ABM), a computerized cognitive training intervention for anxiety and other disorders. However, little research has examined how anxious patients perceive ABM, and it is unclear to what extent perceptions of ABM influence outcome. Aims: To examine patient perceptions of ABM across two studies, using a mixed methods approach. Method: In the first study, participants completed a traditional ABM program and received a hand-out with minimal information about the purpose of the task. In the second study, participants completed an adaptive ABM program and were provided with more extensive rationale and instructions for changing attentional biases. Results: A number of themes emerged from qualitative data related to perceived symptom changes and mechanisms of action, acceptability, early perceptions of the program, barriers/facilitators to engagement, and responses to adaptive features. Moreover, quantitative data suggested that patients’ perceptions of the program predicted symptom reduction as well as change in attentional bias. Conclusions: Our quantitative data suggest that it may be possible to quickly and inexpensively identify some patients who may benefit from current ABM programs, although our qualitative data suggest that ABM needs major modifications before it will be an acceptable and credible treatment more broadly. Although the current study was limited by sample size and design features of the parent trials from which these data originated, our findings may be useful for guiding hypotheses in future studies examining patient perceptions towards ABM.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies 2018 

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