New study: CBT vs attention training in social anxiety disorder

Today we published a new study in Behaviour Research and Therapy which is freely available. The new paper is entiteled Moderation and mediation of the effect of attention training in social anxiety disorder.

While attention modification programs (AMP) have shown promise as laboratory-based treatments for social anxiety disorder, trials of internet-delivered AMP have not yielded significant differences between active and control conditions. To address these inconsistencies, we examined the moderational and mediational role of attention bias in the efficacy of attention training. We compared data reported by Carlbring et al. (2012) to an identical AMP condition, with the exception that participants were instructed to activate social anxiety fears prior to each attention training session (AMP + FACT; n = 39). We also compared all attention training groups to an internet-delivered cognitive-behavioral therapy (iCBT) condition (n = 40). Participants in the AMP + FACT group experienced greater reductions in social anxiety symptoms than both active (n = 40) and control (n = 39) groups reported by Carlbring et al., and did not differ in symptom reductions from the iCBT group. Higher attention bias predicted greater symptom reductions for participants who completed AMP, but not for the control group. Moreover, change in attention bias mediated the relationship between AMP group (active condition reported by Carlbring et al. versus AMP + FACT) and change in social anxiety symptoms. These results suggest the importance of interpreting findings related to symptom change in attention training studies in the context of bias effects.

Kuckertz, J. M., Gildebrant, E., Liliequist, B., Karlström, P., Väppling, C., Bodlund, O., Stenlund, T., Hofmann, S. G., Andersson, G., Amir, N., & Carlbring, P. (2014). Moderation and Mediation of the Effect of Attention Training in Social Anxiety Disorder. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 53, 30-40. [doi: 10.1016/j.brat.2013.12.003]