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Behav Res Ther. 2012 Jun;50(6):428-34. doi: 10.1016/j.brat.2012.03.006. Epub 2012 Mar 30.

Direction of threat attention bias predicts treatment outcome in anxious children receiving cognitive-behavioural therapy.

Author information

  • 1School of Applied Psychology, Griffith University, Australia. a.waters@griffith.edu.au

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

A bias to selectively direct attention to threat stimuli is a cognitive characteristic of anxiety disorders. Recent studies indicate that individual differences in pre-treatment threat attention bias predict treatment outcomes from cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) in anxious individuals. However, there have been inconsistent findings regarding whether attention bias towards threat predicts better or poorer treatment outcome.

METHOD:

This longitudinal study examined treatment outcomes in 35 clinically-anxious children following a 10-week, group-based CBT program, as a function of whether children showed a pre-treatment attention bias towards or away from threat stimuli. The effect of CBT on attention bias was also assessed.

RESULTS:

Both groups showed significant improvement after receiving CBT. However, anxious children with a pre-treatment attention bias towards threat showed greater reductions not only in anxiety symptom severity, but also in the likelihood of meeting diagnostic criteria for anxiety disorders at post-treatment assessment, in comparison with anxious children who showed a pre-treatment attention bias away from threat. Children who had a pre-treatment bias away from threat showed a reduction in this bias over the course of CBT.

CONCLUSIONS:

Findings suggest that pre-existing differences in the direction of attention towards versus away from threat could have important implications for the treatment of anxious children.

Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

PMID:
22542533
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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