Modifying social anxiety related to a real-life stressor using online Cognitive Bias Modification for interpretation.
Behaviour Research and Therapy
This is the author accepted manuscript. The final version is available from Elsevier via http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.brat.2013.10.008.
Modifying threat related biases in attention and interpretation has been shown to successfully reduce global symptoms of anxiety in high anxious and clinically anxious samples (termed Cognitive Bias Modification, CBM). However, the possibility that CBM can be used as a way to prevent anxiety associated with an upcoming real-life stressful event in vulnerable populations has yet to be systematically examined. The present study aimed to assess whether a two-week course of online CBM for interpretations (CBM-I) could reduce social evaluative fear when starting university. Sixty-nine students anxious about starting university completed five sessions of online CBM in the two weeks prior to starting university, or completed a placebo control intervention. Results indicated that CBM-I reduced social evaluative fear from baseline to day one of starting university to a greater extent than the placebo control intervention. Also, there was a greater reduction in state anxiety and a trend indicating a greater reduction in social evaluative fear in the CBM-I group at 4 weeks follow-up. Results suggest that CBM-I could be used as a preventative tool to help reduce anxiety specific to challenging life events.
This study was supported by a Wellcome Trust grant number 083475 awarded to the first, third, fifth and last authors. Laura Hoppitt is now supported by the Medical Research Council (United Kingdom) intramural programme [MC-A060-5PR50]. Barnaby Dunn's involvement in this study was supported by the UK Medical Research Council (U1055.02.002.00001.01) while he worked at the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit. We would like to thank Cambridge Brain Sciences for developing the online version of CBM-I and for the placebo control “brain-training” games. Jo Illingworth is now at the Department of Psychiatry, University of Cambridge, UK. Barnaby Dunn is now at the Mood Disorders Centre, University of Exeter, UK. Bundy Mackintosh is now at the Department of Psychology, University of Essex, UK.
Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
Vol. 52, January 2014, pp. 45 - 52
Place of publication