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Cognitive Therapy and Research

, Volume 39, Issue 1, pp 4–13 | Cite as

A Randomised Controlled Study of the Effects of the Attention Training Technique on Traumatic Stress Symptoms, Emotional Attention Set Shifting and Flexibility

  • Sheila CallinanEmail author
  • Dan Johnson
  • Adrian Wells
Original Article

Abstract

Attention Training (ATT) is a technique used in metacognitive therapy but it has also been shown to produce stand-alone effects. The present study replicates and extends an earlier study of the effects of ATT on traumatic-stress symptoms. A sample of 60 university students who reported a traumatic life event were randomly assigned to either an ATT group (n = 29) or a control group (n = 31). They were exposed to a recorded narrative of their stressful experience before and after the intervention and the primary outcomes were frequency of intrusions and negative affect reported. Secondary outcomes included self-report and performance-based measures of attention flexibility. ATT significantly reduced intrusions and improved negative affect in individuals who had experienced a stressful life event. The technique also appeared to reduce self-focused attention, increase attention flexibility and modified performance on an emotional attention set shifting task. The results suggest that ATT can be beneficial in reducing specific traumatic stress symptoms.

Keywords

Attention training Traumatic stress symptoms Intrusions Metacognition Attentional control 

Notes

Conflict of Interest

Sheila Callinan, Dan Johnson and Adrian Wells declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Informed Consent

All procedures followed were in accordance with the ethical standards of the responsible committee on human experimentation (institutional and national) and with the Helsinki Declaration of 1975, as revised in 2000 (5). Informed consent was obtained from all patients for being included in the study.

Animal Rights

No animal studies were carried out by the authors for this article.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Psychological SciencesUniversity of Manchester, Rawnsley Building, Manchester Royal InfirmaryManchesterUK
  2. 2.Psychology DepartmentWashington and Lee UniversityLexingtonUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyNTNUTrondheimNorway

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