Effects of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the USA were investigated in 25 patients with obsessive compulsive disorder and 27 normal controls 4-6 months after the attacks. Participants completed a 15-item questionnaire to retrospectively assess changes in mood, cognition, behavior and somatic complaints since September 11, 2001. Overall, both patients with obsessive compulsive disorder and normal controls reported minor changes in mood, behavior and somatic complaints. However, normal controls reported severe to extreme initial impact, slightly more cognitive symptoms (uncertainty about the future, intrusive recollections and greater desire to be with loved ones) and a slightly greater degree of overall impact on emotion and behavior at 1, 2 and 3 months after September 11 than did patients with obsessive compulsive disorder. Results support previous research that has found a relatively minor lasting impact of September 11 on both clinical and normal populations. Differences in cognition and coping mechanisms between normal controls and patients with obsessive compulsive disorder are proposed.
Post-event processing is the cognitive rumination that follows social events in cognitive models of social anxiety. The aim of this study was to examine factors that may predict the extent to which individuals engage in post-event processing. Anxious rumination, social anxiety, anxiety sensitivity and post-event processing related to a recent anxiety-provoking social event were assessed in a college student sample (n = 439). Social anxiety and anxious rumination, but not anxiety sensitivity, significantly predicted the extent to which the participants engaged in post-event processing related to an anxiety-provoking social event. Factors that appear to impact on the post-event period include the nature of the social situation and the ethnicity of the participant. It appears that both general rumination over anxious symptoms, and specific rumination related to social events are relevant for cognitive models of social anxiety.
The purpose of the present investigation was to examine the psychological impact of remote exposure to the events and aftermath of the terrorist attacks in the USA on September 11th, 2001, and to assess what differences, if any, exist between individuals classified with probable panic disorder and those without. Telephone interviews were conducted with 122 residents of the capital city of the Canadian prairie province of Saskatchewan in spring 2002 in order to gather information regarding current mood, fears and avoidance behaviours as well as current post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms specific to September 11th. Consistent with previous findings and despite the remote nature of exposure, results indicated that the psychological well-being and behaviour of participants with probable panic disorder was more adversely affected by the events and aftermath of September 11th than those without panic disorder. These results suggest that remote viewing of traumatic events can have a significant and lingering impact on psychological well-being and behaviour and that these effects are more pronounced in those with panic disorder. Implications of the findings and future research directions are discussed.
Several surveys have reported the negative psychological impact on the general public of the terrorist attacks in the USA of September 11th, 2001. Yet the attacks also led many people to make positive changes in their relationships, values and priorities. A survey of 80 adults in Ottawa, Canada demonstrated that greater perceived threat and greater initial distress reactions significantly predicted the extent to which people reported positive changes in their lives (e.g. closer to family, refocused priorities). Initial distress and greater perceived threat also correlated positively with whether people provided help after the disaster. Follow-up data on 40 of these participants 11 months later revealed significant stability over time for the extent of positive life changes reported, and demonstrated that degree of initial distress and perceived threat continued to correlate positively with life change reports at this later point in time. The data are consistent with the argument that the perception of growth may develop out of one's personal experience of emotional pain.
Deliberate self-harm was studied in 14-year-old adolescents from four schools in southern Sweden with a test-retest design, using a nine-item version of the Deliberate Self-Harm Inventory. At Time 1, 40.2% of the adolescents indicated deliberate self-harm on at least one occasion compared with 36.5% at Time 2. Test-retest data showed high stability over periods of up to 2 months in duration. Cross-validation of the results from Time 1 to Time 2 showed robust correlations between deliberate self-harm and general psychopathology, a relative absence of positive feelings toward parents, and a ruminative style of emotional regulation. Further, rumination/negative thinking and a relative absence of positive feelings toward parents were predictors of self-harm independently of general psychopathology. In addition, deliberate self-harm correlated with symptoms of eating disorder and negative body esteem in girls.
To summarize, in their editorial Andersson and Asmundson (2006) have raised a number of important issues concerning the interface between CBT and religion. In this commentary I have illustrated how the issues are much more complex than they may initially seem. There are many other complexities and problems that have not been touched on in this commentary. Like Andersson and Asmundson, I hope the initial discussion of the topic in this journal will encourage a more detailed discussion of the issues, and pave the way toward empirical investigations of how CBT and the various religions of the world can work together to reduce psychopathology, improve well-being, and promote tolerance.
The Attitudes and Belief Scale-2 (ABS-2: DiGiuseppe, Leaf, Exner, & Robin, 1988. The development of a measure of rational/irrational thinking. Paper presented at the World Congress of Behavior Therapy, Edinburg, Scotland.) is a 72-item self-report measure of evaluative rational and irrational beliefs widely used in Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy research contexts. However, little psychometric evidence exists regarding the measure's underlying factor structure. Furthermore, given the length of the ABS-2 there is a need for an abbreviated version that can be administered when there are time demands on the researcher, such as in clinical settings. This study sought to examine a series of theoretical models hypothesized to represent the latent structure of the ABS-2 within an alternative models framework using traditional confirmatory factor analysis as well as utilizing a bifactor modeling approach. Furthermore, this study also sought to develop a psychometrically sound abbreviated version of the ABS-2. Three hundred and thirteen (N = 313) active emergency service personnel completed the ABS-2. Results indicated that for each model, the application of bifactor modeling procedures improved model fit statistics, and a novel eight-factor intercorrelated solution was identified as the best fitting model of the ABS-2. However, the observed fit indices failed to satisfy commonly accepted standards. A 24-item abbreviated version was thus constructed and an intercorrelated eight-factor solution yielded satisfactory model fit statistics. Current results support the use of a bifactor modeling approach to determining the factor structure of the ABS-2. Furthermore, results provide empirical support for the psychometric properties of the newly developed abbreviated version.
Although cognitive theories of anxiety suggest that anxious individuals are characterized by abnormal threat-relevant schemas, few empirical studies have estimated the nature of these cognitive structures using quantitative methods that lend themselves to inferential statistical analysis. In the present study, socially anxious (n = 55) and non-anxious (n = 62) participants completed 3 Q-Sort tasks to assess their knowledge of events that commonly occur in social or evaluative scenarios. Participants either sorted events according to how commonly they personally believe the events occur (i.e. "self" condition), or to how commonly they estimate that most people believe they occur (i.e. "other" condition). Participants' individual Q-Sorts were correlated with mean sorts obtained from a normative sample to obtain an estimate of schema abnormality, with lower correlations representing greater levels of abnormality. Relative to non-anxious participants, socially anxious participants' sorts were less strongly associated with sorts of the normative sample, particularly in the "self" condition, although secondary analyses suggest that some significant results might be explained, in part, by depression and experience with the scenarios. These results provide empirical support for the theoretical notion that threat-relevant self-schemas of anxious individuals are characterized by some degree of abnormality.
Child sexual abuse is a highly prevalent problem that frequently occasions the onset of post-traumatic stress disorder in the victimized youngster. This selective review addresses recent advances in the assessment and treatment of sexually abused children with post-traumatic stress disorder. Firstly, we outline the diagnostic criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder and significant moderating variables in the development of post-traumatic stress disorder. Secondly, we address the clinical assessment of post-traumatic stress disorder in sexually abused children, recommending a developmentally sensitive, multi-informant approach. Thirdly, we consider a family-wide cognitive-behavioural treatment framework for sexually abused children with post-traumatic stress disorder that involves both child and non-offending caregivers. Fourthly, we examine the results of recent evaluation studies supportive of cognitive-behavioural therapy in the treatment of sexually abused children. Lastly, we consider conclusions for clinical practice and directions for future research.
Compulsive washing and contamination fears are among the most common symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Research suggests that exposure and response prevention (ERP) is effective for OCD. However, ERP is prone to dropouts and refusals, and a substantial proportion of clients therefore do not receive the care they need. A proposed solution involves the judicious use of safety behaviour to enhance the acceptability of exposure-based interventions. The current study aimed to test this proposed solution. Participants were 70 undergraduate students who completed two exposure exercises for contamination fear, one with safety behaviour and one without. Participants then rated the acceptability of the two exercises. Exposure with safety behaviour (ESB) was rated as significantly more acceptable than ERP. Furthermore, subjective fear ratings were lower and behavioural approach to a series of contaminants was greater in the ESB condition. Results demonstrated the acceptability-enhancing potential of safety behaviour in exposure, and are discussed in terms of both theoretical and practical aspects of safety behaviour, exposure, and evidence-based interventions for anxiety disorders.
The clinical and cost-effectiveness of a computer-aided cognitive behavioural therapy (CCBT) programme, Beating the Blues, is indicated by a number of studies, but relatively little is known about its acceptability for patients with depression, anxiety, or both. This study investigated the acceptability of Beating the Blues offered on eight scheduled clinic visits with brief face-to-face support. Pre and posttreatment measures explored the relationship among programme acceptability, treatment continuation, and outcomes for people accessing the programme in routine care. Two hundred and nineteen patients with depression, anxiety, or both were offered Beating the Blues in 11 primary and secondary care practices. One hundred and ninety-one (87%) completed the pretreatment measures and 84 (38%) completed a treatment feedback questionnaire. Analysis of treatment acceptability for CCBT indicated a positive patient experience with the programme. Pretreatment expectancies predicted CCBT treatment completion but not outcomes. No differences were found between men and women on pretreatment measures. Posttreatment, women reported more favourable responses to the therapy, finding the programme more helpful and more satisfactory, than did men. No relationship between treatment acceptability and age was found. Study limitations, including research methods and attrition rates, and implications for future research are discussed. It is concluded that the Beating the Blues CCBT programme is an acceptable treatment for common mental health problems in routine care.
Drinking motivated by the desire to cope with painful emotions has been shown to be strongly related to alcohol dependence; the resulting maladaptive pattern of substance use can, therefore, be conceptualized as a form of experiential avoidance (an attempt to decrease contact with unpleasant internal states). Acceptance-based interventions, which specifically address experiential avoidance, are multifaceted, and the mechanisms of action are only beginning to be understood. Using a treatment analogue design to look at the underlying components of acceptance-based interventions, the authors tested the effects of brief mindfulness instructions on the emotional responding of alcohol-dependent college students and compared these results with those from a sample of nondependent students. Multidimensional self-reported and psychophysiological emotional responses to pleasant, unpleasant, and neutral pictorial stimuli did not differ between alcohol-dependent and nondependent participants or between the alcohol-dependent participants receiving the mindfulness versus neutral condition. Alcohol-dependent participants' severity of alcohol dependence was found to be related to both self-reported and psychophysiological responses to the unpleasant pictures; these results support the notion that alcohol-dependent participants may use alcohol to cope with unpleasant emotions.
Although 14% to 42% of people with whiplash injuries end up with chronic debilitating pain, there is still a paucity of empirically supported treatments for this group of patients. In chronic pain management, there is increasing consensus regarding the importance of a behavioural medicine approach to symptoms and disability. Cognitive behaviour therapy has proven to be beneficial in the treatment of chronic pain. An approach that promotes acceptance of, or willingness to experience, pain and other associated negative private events (e.g. fear, anxiety, and fatigue) instead of reducing or controlling symptoms has received increasing attention. Although the empirical support for treatments emphasizing exposure and acceptance (such as acceptance and commitment therapy) is growing, there is clearly a need for more outcome studies, especially randomized controlled trials. In this study, participants (N = 21) with chronic pain and whiplash-associated disorders were recruited from a patient organization and randomized to either a treatment or a wait-list control condition. Both groups continued to receive treatment as usual. In the experimental condition, a learning theory framework was applied to the analysis and treatment. The intervention consisted of a 10-session protocol emphasizing values-based exposure and acceptance strategies to improve functioning and life satisfaction by increasing the participants' abilities to behave in accordance with values in the presence of interfering pain and distress (psychological flexibility). After treatment, significant differences in favor of the treatment group were seen in pain disability, life satisfaction, fear of movements, depression, and psychological inflexibility. No change for any of the groups was seen in pain intensity. Improvements in the treatment group were maintained at 7-month follow-up. The authors discuss implications of these findings and offer suggestions for further research in this area.
Recent studies on tinnitus have focused on the efficacy of Internet-based interventions. Other core features of the quality of service, e.g. acceptance and attrition, have often been overlooked. This study analyses Internet-based training regarding acceptance and attrition in a trial on minimal-contact interventions for acute tinnitus. Whenever possible, we give information on other forms of training for comparison.
In a randomised controlled trial with 337 participants, 87 persons took part in the Internet training.
The participants were as satisfied with the Internet-based training as with a face-to-face group training. There was a 34.48% dropout from the Internet-based training (dropout attrition). The training attrition from the Internet-based training was even higher at 64.4%.
Two out of three indicators for acceptance-satisfaction and dropout attrition-provide comparable results between the Internet-based training and a face-to-face group training. The third indicator, training attrition, shows a better result for the group training. Future research should focus on attrition in order to enhance the overall effectiveness of training.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) training often includes experiential elements aimed at improving therapist psychological flexibility, yet the effects of ACT training on therapist psychological flexibility have yet to be evaluated. This pilot study examines the effects of experiential phone consultation as an adjunct to a standard continuing education workshop on psychological flexibility and burnout among therapists learning ACT. In this study, counselors taking a 2-day ACT workshop were randomly assigned to either six 30-min phone consultation sessions (n = 10) or no additional contact (n = 10). The results show that those in the consultation condition reported higher psychological flexibility at the 3-month follow-up compared to the workshop-only condition. Improvements in ACT knowledge, overall burnout, and personal accomplishment were found in both groups, independent of whether they received phone consultation, and this increase was maintained over time. In conclusion, ACT phone consultation contributed to counselor psychological flexibility above the workshop alone and appears to be feasible as a means to improve counselor psychological flexibility.
The concept of acceptance has recently received growing attention within tinnitus research due to the fact that tinnitus acceptance is one of the major targets of psychotherapeutic treatments. Accordingly, acceptance-based treatments will most likely be increasingly offered to tinnitus patients and assessments of acceptance-related behaviours will thus be needed. The current study investigated the factorial structure of the Tinnitus Acceptance Questionnaire (TAQ) and the role of tinnitus acceptance as mediating link between sound perception (i.e. subjective loudness of tinnitus) and tinnitus distress. In total, 424 patients with chronic tinnitus completed the TAQ and validated measures of tinnitus distress, anxiety, and depression online. Confirmatory factor analysis provided support to a good fit of the data to the hypothesised bifactor model (root-mean-square-error of approximation = .065; Comparative Fit Index = .974; Tucker-Lewis Index = .958; standardised root mean square residual = .032). In addition, mediation analysis, using a non-parametric joint coefficient approach, revealed that tinnitus-specific acceptance partially mediated the relation between subjective tinnitus loudness and tinnitus distress (path ab = 5.96; 95% CI: 4.49, 7.69). In a multiple mediator model, tinnitus acceptance had a significantly stronger indirect effect than anxiety. The results confirm the factorial structure of the TAQ and suggest the importance of a general acceptance factor that contributes important unique variance beyond that of the first-order factors activity engagement and tinnitus suppression. Tinnitus acceptance as measured with the TAQ is proposed to be a key construct in tinnitus research and should be further implemented into treatment concepts to reduce tinnitus distress.
Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) is a promising treatment option for fibromyalgia (FM). Studies have shown that many cognitive behavioral protocols can be transferred to the Internet with sustained efficacy. However, no study has investigated the effect on an Internet-delivered ACT-based protocol for FM. This study evaluated the efficacy, acceptability, and the health economic effects of an Internet-delivered acceptance and values-based exposure treatment for FM.
This open pilot trial included 41 self-referred women with a FM diagnosis. The 10-week Internet-delivered treatment included acceptance, mindfulness, work with life-values, and systematic exposure to FM symptoms and FM-related situations. Participants also had regular contact with an assigned online therapist. Assessments were made at pretreatment, post-treatment, and 6-month follow-up.
The treatment was completed by 70% of the participants. Attrition rates were low, with 98% completing the post-treatment assessment and 90% completing the 6-month follow-up assessment. Multiple imputations were used to replace missing values. Pre- to post-treatment within-group effect sizes were in the moderate to large range (Cohen's d = 0.62-1.56) on measures of FM symptoms and impact, disability, quality of life, depression, anxiety, fatigue, and psychological flexibility. All improvements were maintained at follow-up. Economical analyses revealed significant societal cost reductions that offset the treatment costs within 2 months of treatment completion.
An Internet-delivered psychological treatment based on acceptance and exposure principles seems to be an efficacious, acceptable, and cost-effective treatment for FM. Randomized controlled trials are needed to confirm these results.
Preliminary data are presented on the pattern of treatment response of combining interoceptive exposure (IE) with trauma-related exposure therapy (TRE) in five female patients with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and comorbid chronic musculoskeletal pain originating from motor vehicle accidents. Treatment consisted of four sessions of IE followed by eight sessions of TRE. Four participants reported a reduction in PTSD symptoms after completing treatment, and three no longer met diagnostic criteria for PTSD. Although both interventions were associated with reductions in PTSD symptoms, TRE was associated with greater reductions in PTSD symptoms than IE and was particularly effective at reducing avoidance. IE was associated with larger reductions in anxiety sensitivity than TRE. Pain symptoms lessened slightly during IE and then worsened following TRE. Anxiety decreased after completing treatment, whereas panic and depressive symptoms responded less so. Three individuals completed a 3-month follow-up assessment. There was no change in their PTSD diagnostic status, and all experienced a slight loss of pre-post gains, particularly involving the return of pain. Clinical and research implications are discussed.
Inter-rater reliability and accuracy are measures of rater performance. Inter-rater reliability is frequently used as a substitute for accuracy despite conceptual differences and literature suggesting important differences between them. The aims of this study were to compare inter-rater reliability and accuracy among a group of raters, using a treatment adherence scale, and to assess for factors affecting the reliability of these ratings. Paired undergraduate raters assessed therapist behavior by viewing videotapes of 4 therapists' cognitive behavioral therapy sessions. Ratings were compared with expert-generated criterion ratings and between raters using intraclass correlation (2,1). Inter-rater reliability was marginally higher than accuracy (p = 0.09). The specific therapist significantly affected inter-rater reliability and accuracy. The frequency and intensity of the therapists' ratable behaviors of criterion ratings correlated only with rater accuracy. Consensus ratings were more accurate than individual ratings, but composite ratings were not more accurate than consensus ratings. In conclusion, accuracy cannot be assumed to exceed inter-rater reliability or vice versa, and both are influenced by multiple factors. In this study, the subject of the ratings (i.e. the therapist and the intensity and frequency of rated behaviors) was shown to influence inter-rater reliability and accuracy. The additional resources needed for a composite rating, a rating based on the average score of paired raters, may be justified by improved accuracy over individual ratings. The additional time required to arrive at a consensus rating, a rating generated following discussion between 2 raters, may not be warranted. Further research is needed to determine whether these findings hold true with other raters and treatment adherence scales.
Exaggerated startle is a common symptom (based on Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders [fourth edition] Criterion D) for many patients with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Findings from previous studies suggest that exaggerated startle may be due to trauma exposure or pretrauma vulnerability factors for PTSD development. The present clinical case study reports on a patient with PTSD characterized by a very prominent startle response and preference against standard trauma-related exposure strategies. On the basis of recent findings that interoceptive exposure exercises (e.g. shaking head side to side, hyperventilation) elicit trauma-related memories (Wald & Taylor, 2008), the authors sought to determine whether repeated application of an acoustic startle stimulus would serve to diminish the prominent startle response and facilitate exposure and overall symptom reduction by eliciting trauma-related memories. The protocol was successful in eliciting vivid and distressing trauma-related memories. Over the course of seven exposure trials, the patient demonstrated a decrease in distress elicited during the protocol, improved mood, and reduced general anxiety and trauma-related distress. He also reported significantly decreased startle response to loud noises encountered during activities of daily living. Although preliminary, these finding suggest that the acoustic startle protocol may be a viable (interoceptive) exposure strategy for individuals with PTSD, particularly those with exaggerated startle responses and those who are not amenable to standard trauma-related exposure strategies.
There is a need to understand the mechanism through which homework contributes to clinically meaningful change in therapy. Theoretically meaningful factors such as willingness to complete therapeutic assignments and cognitive skill acquisition have not been carefully studied in prior research. Depressed outpatients (N = 46) received cognitive behavioural group therapy for a 10-week period and were assigned relevant homework activities. Patient self-report and independent ratings of homework compliance were obtained on a session-by-session basis. Using path analysis, the authors found evidence that willingness to complete homework assignments and mastery of skill in cognitive restructuring helped account for the relationship between homework compliance and reduced symptom severity (R2 = .40). However, paths were only significant when patient self-report of homework compliance was used in the model. The present study highlights the problems in assessing homework compliance and in assuming that independent assessment of compliance is more accurate than patient self-report.
Intolerance of uncertainty (IU) has been identified as a potential maintaining factor for generalised anxiety disorder; however, there is a growing evidence to suggest that IU may contribute to other anxiety and depressive disorders. Moreover, certain components of IU (namely prospective and inhibitory IU) have been shown to be differentially associated with symptoms of emotional disorders. The aim of this study was to determine the extent to which individuals with various anxiety and depressive disorders endorsed IU, firstly as a trait variable (with prospective and inhibitory components) and secondly in reference to regularly occurring, diagnostically relevant situations (situation-specific IU). The degree to which diagnosis predicted IU was examined in a highly comorbid clinical sample (N = 218). Regardless of specific diagnoses, the degree of comorbidity emerged as a significant predictor of prospective IU and situation-specific IU. Conversely, specific diagnoses of social phobia, generalised anxiety disorder, depression, and obsessive compulsive disorder were uniquely related to inhibitory IU. These findings suggest that IU is a transdiagnostic construct and have implications for current diagnosis-specific and transdiagnostic theory and clinical practice.
Previous research suggests that social anxiety disorder (SAD) has a specific relationship with impairment in friendship quality; however, potential moderators of this relationship have not been tested. The current study examines whether the specific effect of SAD on friendship quality is stable or varies across gender and ethnicity in a large epidemiological dataset. Results indicate that the underlying construct of friendship quality differed slightly but significantly between men and women; as a result, effects of SAD were tested in men and women separately. After partially constraining friendship quality across ethnic groups, our results indicated that the relationship between SAD and friendship quality remained robust in all groups. In addition to replicating the finding that SAD specifically relates to perceived friendship quality, the current study highlights the need to test whether underlying constructs such as friendship quality are consistent across the groups that make up heterogeneous samples.
Despite the heterogeneous nature of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), many self-report assessments do not adequately capture the clinical picture presenting within each symptom dimension, particularly unacceptable thoughts (UTs). In addition, obsessions and ordering/arranging compulsions are often underrepresented in samples of treatment outcome studies for OCD. Such methodological discrepancies may obscure research findings comparing treatment outcomes across OCD symptom dimensions. This study aimed to improve upon previous research by investigating treatment outcomes across OCD symptom dimensions using the Dimensional Obsessive-Compulsive Scale, which offers a more comprehensive assessment of UTs. The study included a primarily residential sample of 134 OCD patients. Results indicated that there were no significant differences in treatment outcomes across symptom dimensions. However, the severity of UTs remained significantly greater than other symptom dimensions at both admission and discharge. Thus, it is possible that UTs may exhibit uniquely impairing features, compared with other symptom dimensions. It is also possible that these findings may reflect the characteristics of the residential OCD samples. These speculations as well as implications for OCD treatment and future research are discussed.