The effect of attributional processes concerning medication taking on return of fear
SourceJournal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 76, 3, (2008), pp. 478-490
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ BSI KLP
Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology
SubjectExperimental Psychopathology and Treatment
In this investigation, the authors examined the effect of attributional processes concerning medication taking on return of fear following exposure-based treatment. Participants (87% undergraduate students and 13% community volunteers) displaying marked claustrophobic fear (N = 95) were randomly allocated to a waitlist condition, a psychological placebo condition, a I-session exposure-based treatment, or the same exposure treatment given in conjunction with an inactive pill. Attributions concerning medication taking were manipulated by further randomly assigning participants in the exposure-based treatment plus pill condition to 1 of 3 instructional sets immediately following treatment completion and posttreatment assessment: (1) The pill was described as a sedating herb that likely made exposure treatment easier; (2) the pill was described as a stimulating herb that likely made exposure treatment more difficult; or (3) the pill was described as a placebo that had no effect on exposure treatment. Return of fear rates for the 3 conditions were 39%, 0%, and 0%, respectively. Moreover, the deleterious effects of the sedation instructions were mediated by reduced self-efficacy. These findings highlight the importance of assessing patient attributions regarding the improvements achieved with combined exposure-based and pharmacological treatments for anxiety disorders.
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