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J Anxiety Disord. 2009 Dec;23(8):1106-17. doi: 10.1016/j.janxdis.2009.07.014. Epub 2009 Jul 14.

Adding a motivational interviewing pretreatment to cognitive behavioral therapy for generalized anxiety disorder: a preliminary randomized controlled trial.

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  • 1York University, Department of Psychology, 127 Behavioral Sciences, Ontario, Canada.


Seventy-six individuals with a principal diagnosis of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) were randomly assigned to receive either an MI pretreatment or no pretreatment (NPT), prior to receiving CBT. Significant group differences favoring the MI-CBT group were observed on the hallmark GAD symptom of worry and on therapist-rated homework compliance, which mediated the impact of treatment group on worry reduction. Adding MI pretreatment to CBT was specifically and substantively beneficial for individuals with high worry severity at baseline. There was evidence of relapse at 6-month follow-up for high severity individuals who received MI-CBT, but significant moderator effects favoring the high severity MI-CBT group were again apparent at 12-months post-treatment. Pending replication in a more controlled test, these findings suggest that MI may be a promising adjunct to CBT for GAD for those of high severity, a group which has been less responsive to CBT in past research.

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