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Direction of threat attention bias predicts treatment outcome in anxious children receiving cognitive-behavioural therapy

Waters, Allison M., Mogg, Karin and Bradley, Brendan P. (2012) Direction of threat attention bias predicts treatment outcome in anxious children receiving cognitive-behavioural therapy Behaviour Research and Therapy, 50, (6), pp. 428-434.

Record type: Article


A bias to selectively direct attention to threat stimuli is a cognitive characteristic of anxiety disorders. Recent studies indicate that individual differences in pre-treatment threat attention bias predict treatment outcomes from cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) in anxious individuals. However, there have been inconsistent findings regarding whether attention bias towards threat predicts better or poorer treatment outcome. Method: This longitudinal study examined treatment outcomes in 35 clinically anxious children following a 10-week, group-based CBT program, as a function of whether children showed a pre-treatment attention bias towards or away from threat stimuli. The effect of CBT on attention bias was also assessed. Results: Both groups showed significant improvement after receiving CBT. However, anxious children with a pre-treatment attention bias towards threat showed greater reductions not only in anxiety symptom severity, but also in the likelihood of meeting diagnostic criteria for anxiety disorders at post-treatment assessment, in comparison with anxious children who showed a pre-treatment attention bias away from threat. Children who had a pre-treatment bias away from threat showed a reduction in this bias over the course of CBT. Conclusions: Findings suggest that pre-existing differences in the direction of attention towards versus away from threat could have important implications for the treatment of anxious children.

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Published date: 2012
Organisations: Clinical Neuroscience


Local EPrints ID: 336163
ISSN: 0005-7967
PURE UUID: 9fcf5bff-3c03-4b8d-aa74-af1a47ac9bec

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Date deposited: 16 Mar 2012 13:04
Last modified: 18 Jul 2017 06:09

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Author: Allison M. Waters
Author: Karin Mogg

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