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Cognitive bias modification for interpretation with and without prior repetitive negative thinking to reduce worry and rumination in generalised anxiety disorder and depression: Protocol for a multisession experimental study with an active control condition

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Charlotte Krahé, Andrew Mathews, Jessica Whyte, Colette Hirsch

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere013404
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 16 Dec 2016


King's Authors


Introduction Worry and rumination are two forms of repetitive thinking characterised by their negative content and apparently uncontrollable nature. Although worry and rumination share common features and have been conceptualised as part of a transdiagnostic repetitive negative thinking (RNT) process, it remains unclear whether they share the same underlying cognitive mechanisms. This multisession experimental study investigates the tendency to make negative interpretations regarding ambiguous information as a cognitive mechanism underlying RNT. We compare multisession cognitive bias modification for interpretations (CBM-I) with an active control condition to examine whether repeatedly training positive interpretations reduces worry and rumination in individuals with generalised anxiety disorder or depression, respectively. Further, we examine the potential modulatory effects of engaging in RNT immediately prior to CBM-I. Design, methods and analysis A community sample of individuals meeting diagnostic criteria for either generalised anxiety disorder (n=60) or current major depressive episode (n=60) will be randomly allocated to CBM-I with prior RNT, CBM-I without prior RNT (ie, standard CBM-I), or an active control (no resolution of ambiguity) condition. All conditions receive a 3-week internet-based intervention consisting of one initial session at the first study visit and nine home-based sessions of CBM-I training (or active control). We will assess and compare the effects of CBM-I with and without prior RNT on 'near-transfer' measures of interpretation bias closely related to the training as well as 'far-transfer' outcomes related to RNT and emotional distress. Impact on questionnaire measures will additionally be assessed at 1-month follow-up. Multigroup analyses will be conducted to assess the impact of CBM-I on near-transfer and far-transfer outcome measures.

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