Modifying Obsessive-Compulsive Beliefs about Controlling One’s Thoughts
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Cognitive models of obsessive-compulsive disorder propose that beliefs about the importance of and need to control thoughts (ICT) are central to the maintenance of the disorder. Cognitive Bias Modification for Interpretation (CBM-I) can be used to experimentally test this theory and may also have clinical utility as an adjunct therapeutic tool. The current study extended previous research to investigate whether two CBM-I sessions (one within and one outside the laboratory) would augment effects on obsessive-compulsive beliefs and behavior. We randomly allocated undergraduate participants high in ICT beliefs to a Positive (n = 30) or Control (n = 36) CBM-I condition and conducted multi-modal assessments immediately following the first training and at one-week follow-up. As predicted, participants in the Positive condition reported a reduction in obsessive-compulsive beliefs from baseline to follow-up (partial η 2 = .42), whereas those in the Control condition did not. Participants responded more adaptively to the ICT relevant stressor task at follow-up compared to post-intervention, but there was no significant difference between conditions. Likewise, participants reported a reduction in obsessive symptoms over time that did not differ between conditions. The findings are considered in light of cognitive models of OCD, and clinical implications are discussed.
KeywordsCognitive bias modification Interpretation bias Obsessive-compulsive disorder Intrusive thoughts
Compliance with Ethical Standards
The research was supported in part by an Australian Research Council Future Fellowship FT140100207 awarded to the second author.
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
Conflict of Interest
Eileen P. Stech declares that she has no conflicts of interest. Jessica R. Grisham has received a research fellowship from Australian Research Council.
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