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A Meta-Analysis of Bias at Baseline in RCTs of Attention Bias Modification: No Evidence for Dot-Probe Bias Towards Threat in Clinical Anxiety and PTSD
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology, Clinical psychology.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-2318-6576
2019 (English)In: Journal of Abnormal Psychology, ISSN 0021-843X, E-ISSN 1939-1846, Vol. 128, no 6, p. 563-573Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Background: Considerable effort and funding have been spent on developing Attention Bias Modification (ABM) as a treatment for anxiety disorders, theorized to exert therapeutic effects through reduction of a tendency to orient attention towards threat. However, meta-analytical evidence that clinical anxiety is characterized by threat-related attention bias is thin. The largest meta-analysis to date included dot-probe data for n=337 clinically anxious individuals. Baseline measures of biased attention obtained in ABM RCTs form an additional body of data that has not previously been meta-analyzed.

Method: This paper presents a meta-analysis of threat-related dot-probe bias measured at baseline for 1005 clinically anxious individuals enrolled in 13 ABM RCTs.

Results: Random-effects meta-analysis indicated no evidence that the mean bias index (BI) differed from zero (k= 13, n= 1005, mean BI = 1.8 ms, SE = 1.26 ms, p = .144, 95% CI [-0.6 - 4.3]. Additional Bayes factor analyses also supported the point-zero hypothesis (BF10 = .23), whereas interval-based analysis indicated that mean bias in clinical anxiety is unlikely to extend beyond the 0 to 5 ms interval. 

Discussion: Findings are discussed with respect to strengths (relatively large samples, possible bypassing of publication bias), limitations (lack of control comparison, repurposing data, specificity to dot-probe data), and theoretical and practical context. We suggest that it should no longer be assumed that clinically anxious individuals are characterized by selective attention towards threat.

Conclusion: Clinically anxious individuals enrolled in RCTs for Attention Bias Modification are not characterized by threat-related attention bias at baseline.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019. Vol. 128, no 6, p. 563-573
Keywords [en]
attention bias, clinical anxiety, meta-analysis, attention bias modification, translational research
National Category
Applied Psychology
Research subject
Clinical Psychology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-171504DOI: 10.1037/abn0000406ISI: 000478024300009OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-171504DiVA, id: diva2:1342127
Funder
EU, FP7, Seventh Framework Programme, 324176Available from: 2019-08-12 Created: 2019-08-12 Last updated: 2019-08-19Bibliographically approved

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