This application proposes a pilot test of Attention Bias Modification Training (ABMT) among children and adolescents who have completed a full protocol of cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) for anxiety and still meet criteria for a primary diagnosis of Social Phobia (SOP), Separation Anxiety Disorder (SAD), or Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) a full year after completion of CBT. There is currently not a single empirical study in the youth anxiety treatment literature that has systematically examined a treatment augment for youth who fail to respond to a full course of CBT. Empirical efforts to address this issue are important because youths who do not respond to CBT continue to suffer emotional distress and impairment associated with anxiety disorders, experience frustration and demoralization by perceived "failure," and likely pose a financial burden on the health care system. ABMT is a novel translational treatment for anxiety based on experimental and neuroscience research findings on attention processes. Research demonstrates that ABMT leads to reductions in anxiety and its disorders. Based on recent theory and research demonstrating an attention bias toward threat predicts CBT nonresponse among anxious youth, researchers have postulated that ABMT may hold promise as an augment to CBT because of its specific focus on attention bias that targets both frontal-cortical and subcortical circuitry. Thi study will recruit an estimated 70 children and adolescents who have completed a 12-14 week CBT trial for anxiety disorders (Silverman, R01 MH079943) and at the one year follow-up continue to meet criteria for a primary diagnosis of SOP, SAD, or GAD. These 70 children and adolescents (ages 8-16 years) will be randomly assigned to complete eight biweekly sessions of either ABMT or a placebo control (PC) task. Clinician ratings on youth anxiety severity will be collected and evaluated as the primary outcome. Youth self ratings on anxiety symptoms and parent ratings on youth anxiety symptoms will be collected and evaluated as secondary outcomes. All measures will be collected before condition assignment (pretreatment), at immediate posttreatment, and at an eight week follow up. The following specific aims will be addressed.
Aim 1 : Test whether ABMT leads to significantly lower levels of anxiety at posttreatment as compared to a Placebo Control Task.
Aim 2 : Examine whether ABMT leads to significantly lower levels of anxiety as compared to a Placebo Control Task at a follow up evaluation eight weeks posttreatment. This would suggest the maintenance of ABMT effects after eight weeks of no treatment.
Aim 3 : Gain perspective on the viability of variables as potential mediators and moderator of ABMT so as to inform decisions about whether to pursue these variables in a future R01. The variables proposed as potential mediators are attention bias toward threat and threat-related interpretation bias. The variable proposed as a potential moderator is attention control. Overall, this project will provide critically needed data on ABMT as a treatment augment for youth with anxiety disorders who do not respond CBT. With these data in hand, the field will be in a better position to determine whether and how ABMT may be used optimally among anxious youth who are likely to need more than CBT.
This R34 application proposes a pilot test of Attention Bias Modification Training (ABMT) among children and adolescents who did not respond to a 12-14 week cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) protocol for anxiety disorders. Findings of the proposed research are expected to place the field in a better position to determine whether, how, and for whom ABMT may be used optimally among anxious youth who are likely to need more than CBT.
|Bechor, Michele; Pettit, Jeremy W; Silverman, Wendy K et al. (2014) Attention Bias Modification Treatment for children with anxiety disorders who do not respond to cognitive behavioral therapy: a case series. J Anxiety Disord 28:154-9|