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Title: Attentional bias modification training for generalised anxiety disorder
Author: Sargeant, Elizabeth
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2012
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This thesis comprises a literature review and empirical study relating to Attentional Bias Modification Training (ABMT) and Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD). Following a general introduction of GAD, the literature review explores the cognitive models of GAD that place an emphasis on attentional bias. These models propose attentional bias as a key factor in developing and maintaining GAD. The dot probe and emotional stroop task have demonstrated empirical evidence of the relationship between attentional bias and GAD. ABMT represents a new paradigm for testing the relationship between attentional bias and GAD. ABMT uses contingency training to implicitly modify attentional bias to either increase vigilance to threat or avoid threat stimuli. ABMT represents a relatively novel treatment for GAD. Research that has explored the effectiveness of ABMT in treating GAD is discussed. Based on a critical evaluation of the current evidence base, there is emerging evidence to suggest that ABMT does represent a novel treatment for GAD and future research questions are suggested. The empirical paper investigates the effectiveness of ABMT in training an attentional bias from threat vigilance towards threat avoidance in a student population. Following training, symptoms of GAD were induced through the use of 7.5% CO2 challenge to evaluate the prophylactic effects of ABMT, compared to an active relaxation control group. The results of the study show that ABMT significantly changed attentional bias in the expected direction. The CO2 inhalation effectively induced anxiety across all participants. However, ABMT did not attenuate anxiety following the CO2 challenge. Correlations within the ABMT group demonstrated a relationship with attentional bias and anxiety as measured by physiological responses. The results of the study are discussed in relation to theoretical models and empirical research. Clinical implications of the study are considered and suggestions of future research as a result of the findings are also proposed.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Clin.Psy.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available