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Treatment without target? No meta-analytical evidence for baseline bias towards threat in 860 clinically anxious individuals enrolled in Attention Bias Modification RCTs
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology, Clinical psychology.
2017 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Background: Considerable effort and funding are spent on developing and assessing clinical efficacy of dot probe task (DPT) based Attention Bias Modification (ABM). ABM is regarded as a potential new (online) treatment for anxiety disorders especially. Anxiety disorders are commonly asserted to be characterised by ABM’s treatment target: preferential processing of threatening information. Yet the available meta-analytical evidence for this specific threat- bias in clinically anxious individuals is thin: the largest meta-analysis to date included DPT data for only n = 337 clinically anxious individuals. We reasoned that the baseline bias measures obtained in RCTs for ABM constitute a considerable, hitherto not assessed, body of data on the existence of DPT threat bias in clinically anxious samples.

Method: Baseline ‘threat vs neutral’ DPT summary data for n=860 clinically anxious individuals enrolled in k=11 ABM RCTs were meta-analysed using REML. Additional Bayesian analysis was used to assess support for a series of 1 ms wide bias size intervals.

Results: REML analysis indicated no evidence that mean observed Bias Index (BI) differs from point zero (k= 11, n= 860, mean BI = 1.8, SE = 1.53, p = .229, 95% CI [-1.2 - 4.8]). Bayesian analyses indicated moderate support for the traditional ‘point-zero’ over the ‘not point-zero’ hypothesis (BF01 = 6.7). Interval-based Bayesian analysis suggest that BI most likely falls in the 0-1 ms interval (BFinterval/notinterval = 231) and is almost certainly not larger than +2 ms (towards threat), or -1 ms (away from threat).

Conclusion: Clinically anxious individuals enrolled in RCTs for Attention Bias Modification do not display attention bias towards threat at the start of their trials. This meta-analytical finding casts strong doubt on the common assumption that clinical anxiety is characterized by preferential attention allocation towards threatening information.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017. 19-19 p.
Keyword [en]
ABM, attention bias modification, dot probe task, DPT, anxiety disorders, preferential attention allocation
National Category
Psychology
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-149196OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-149196DiVA: diva2:1158636
Conference
9th Swedish Congress on internet interventions (SWEsrii), Linköping, Sweden, November 3, 2017
Available from: 2017-11-20 Created: 2017-11-20 Last updated: 2017-11-27Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
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