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Guided and unguided transdiagnostic Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for anxiety disorders provided via a computer and a smartphone application: A randomized controlled trial
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology, Clinical psychology.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology, Clinical psychology.
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2016 (English)In: EABCT 2016 Abstract Book: Total Awareness, 2016, 530-530 p.Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Technology-assisted psychological treatments are becoming well-known in the scientific networks throughout the world and are being implemented into routine health care in a number of countries. The interest in evaluating the potential of different devices is growing. The main objective of the current study was to evaluate the effects of guided and unguided computerand smartphone-based Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) for social anxiety disorder (SAD) and panic disorder (PD).

A total of 152 participants were randomized into a guided treatment group, an unguided treatment group and a waiting list control group. Both treatment groups got access to a computer-based ACT-treatment and a smartphone application (app) with corresponding content. The eight modules treatment program covered a number of topics such as the nature of anxiety, functional analyses, acceptance, mindfulness and valued actions. The purpose of the app was to make it easier for the participants to access the key points of the program and to do homework assignments in their everyday life. Automatic messages in the app aimed to give feedback to the participants on their work as well as to prompt them to continue with the program. In addition to that, the participants in the guided group got therapist support via the app. The therapists were encouraged to work with each of their patient 15 min/week during the 10 weeks treatment period and focus on motivating, validating and correcting mistakes. On the whole group level GAD-7 was used as the primary outcome measure. LSAS and PDSS-SR were used for subgroup analyses in SAD and PD participants respectively. The measurements were collected at pre-, mid- and post-treatment and at 12-months follow-up.

There were no significant differences in adherence between the treatment groups except for significantly higher rates of smartphone usage in the guided group. No significant differences in treatment outcome were found between the treatment groups with moderate within-group effects (Cohen’s d = 0.75 for the guided and Cohen’s d = 0.66 for the unguided group). The treated participants improved significantly in comparison to the control group both on the whole group level (between group Cohen’s d = 0.39) and for the participants suffering primarily from SAD (between group Cohen’s d = 0.70). Within group effect sizes were large for the PD-participants (Cohen’s d = 1.00) but the study was very underpowered in this part.

Discussion. The treatment program as it was used in the present study appeared to be effective in treating social anxiety disorder and decreasing general anxiety symptoms, but the effects are smaller than seen in previous studies. The guided treatment was not clearly superior to the unguided one. The study contributes to the growing body of evidence on technology-assisted ACT.

Conclusion. Computer- and smartphone-based ACT can be made into an effective treatment for anxiety disorders. A smartphone application seems to have a clear potential to partly compensate for the absence of therapist support which needs to be studied further.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. 530-530 p.
Keyword [en]
ACT, guided, unguided, anxiety disorders, computer, smartphone
National Category
Psychology
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-134696OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-134696DiVA: diva2:1037421
Conference
46th European Association of Behavioural and Cognitive Therapies congress, Stockholm, Sweden, August 31-September 3, 2016
Available from: 2016-10-14 Created: 2016-10-14 Last updated: 2017-12-04Bibliographically approved

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