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Title: Does recruiting attentional control in the presence of threat reduce worry?
Author: MacKintosh, Lucy Dorothea
ISNI:       0000 0004 6424 2498
Awarding Body: King's College London
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2017
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Background: Rumination and worry represent two forms of repetitive negative thinking (RNT) common in mood and anxiety disorders. While they have many similarities, it is unclear whether there are fundamental differences in content, mentation style and functions, or whether these are artefacts of different definitions and research focuses, such that both are fundamentally instances of the same process of RNT. This review aimed to determine whether direct comparisons of episodes of rumination and worry suggest fundamental similarities or differences between them. Methods: Studies were included if they were empirical studies comparing characteristics of episodes of rumination and worry, either in the context of depression and/or generalised anxiety, or in a non-clinical context. Only studies published in English in peer-reviewed journals were included. Key exclusion criteria included studies solely of trait rumination and worry as measured by standardised questionnaire. Searches were made of PsycINFO, Scopus, Web of Science and PubMed through to March 2017. Quality was assessed using a specifically developed tool. Results: 9 studies were included, covering both naturally occurring and induced rumination and worry in clinical and non-clinical populations, using experimental and observation methodology. The strongest evidence was for worry being more verbal than rumination, for rumination and worrying containing past-, present- and future-oriented thoughts, and for both leading to a worsening of mood. Rumination and worry are likely to be more abstract than neutral thinking, but the evidence is contradictory as to whether they differ from each other. Rumination emerged as more past-oriented, and worry more future-oriented, but this may be affected by the definitions used. Poorer quality evidence suggested that rumination may be more self-focused, and that there may be greater associations between rumination and sadness, and between worry with anxiety and arousal. Discussion: This review adds further evidence for a small number of similarities and differences between the rumination and worry that align with findings from separate studies of these forms of RNT, and suggests some difference between the two constructs as they are currently defined. Heterogeneous aims and methodology, contradictory findings and some methodological flaws limited the conclusions that could be drawn. Definitions of rumination and worry given to participants may have contaminated findings, particularly in relation to temporal orientation. It is unclear whether all studies were examining the same constructs. Future research would benefit from greater clarity about aspects of RNT are being investigated.
Supervisor: Hirsch, Colette Rosanne Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available