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Keywords:

  • anxiety disorders;
  • attention training;
  • cognitive bias modification;
  • dissemination;
  • treatment;
  • youth

Background

Recent research suggests the efficacy of attention modification programs (AMP) in treating adult anxiety.[1] Though some research supports the success of AMP treatment in anxious youths,[2, 3] to date no study has examined the efficacy of AMP as an adjunctive treatment to other psychosocial and pharmacological interventions for anxious youths within the community.

Methods

In the current study, we examined the efficacy of AMP as an adjunctive treatment to standard care at a residential anxiety treatment facility. Adolescents (N = 42) completed either an active (attention modification program, AMP; n = 21) or a control (attention control condition, ACC; n = 21) condition, in addition to the facility's standard treatment protocol, which included cognitive behavioral therapy with or without medication.

Results

While anxiety symptoms decreased for participants across both groups, participants in the AMP group experienced a significantly greater decrease in anxiety symptoms from point of intake to point of discharge, in comparison to participants in the ACC group.

Conclusions

These results suggest that AMP is an effective adjunctive treatment to the standard treatments of choice for anxiety disorders, and may hold promise for improving treatment response in highly anxious youths.