A Treatment Feasibility Study of an Attention Retraining Approach for Post-traumatic Stress Disorder

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Virginia Tech

Information-processing studies have shown an attentional bias (AB) towards threat cues in individuals with anxiety disorders. Research has consistently shown that AB to threat may play a causal role in the development and maintenance of anxiety disorders. Recent empirical evidence has demonstrated support for Attention Retraining (AR) to modify AB to threat, resulting in reductions of anxiety. Currently, AR approaches have not been systematically tested in individuals with Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The purpose of this study was to assess the feasibility of a computer-based attention retraining (CBAR) treatment for clinical levels of PTSD using a modified dot-probe paradigm. A single-case time-series design was employed with a treatment and post-treatment period, following baseline. Results indicated significant reductions in trauma-related symptoms, attention to threat cues, state anxiety and depression, along with a significant increase in coping self-efficacy. AB change for the group was not significant. A significant relationship between AB change and PTSD symptoms was found. The results were discussed from the standpoint of the viability of AR for trauma.

attention retraining, treatment, post-traumatic stress disorder, attentional bias