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The Pose study - panic control treatment versus panic-focused psychodynamic psychotherapy under randomized and self-selection conditions: study protocol for a randomized controlled trial

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Rolf Sandell, Martin Svensson, Thomas Nilsson, Håkan Johansson, Gardar Viborg, Sean Perrin

Original languageEnglish
Article number130
Early online date31 Mar 2015
E-pub ahead of print31 Mar 2015
Published31 Mar 2015


King's Authors


Background: Panic disorder with or without agoraphobia is a commonly occurring disorder affecting 2 to 3% of the population in Sweden. Untreated, panic disorder is a chronic condition that significantly increases the risk for psychiatric comorbidity, morbidity and mortality, employment difficulties, and healthcare utilization. Cognitive behavioral approaches are the recommended first-line treatment for panic disorder; however, many patients in routine care receive another evidence-based psychotherapy, including psychodynamic therapy. Allowing patients to choose among evidence-based approaches to panic disorder may improve outcomes and reduce overall health costs. Trials comparing the ‘gold standard’ treatment for panic disorder to other evidence-based psychotherapies are needed, and also trials that can separate patient preferences for treatment from randomization effects on outcome, disability and healthcare utilization in the longer term. Methods/Design: A phase 2/3 doubly-randomized controlled trial carried out in routine care with 216 adults (aged 18 to 70 years) with a primary diagnosis of DSM-IV Panic Disorder (with or without Agoraphobia). Within each clinic, patients are randomized to self-selection, random assignment of treatment, or wait-list. Patients choose or are randomly assigned to either Panic Control Treatment or Panic-Focused Psychodynamic Psychotherapy. Primary outcomes are changes in panic symptom severity, occupational status, and sickness-related absences from work at post-treatment and 6, 12 and 24 months post-treatment. Secondary outcomes include changes in agoraphobic avoidance, psychiatric comorbidity, disability, and healthcare utilization. The study also employs elements of an effectiveness trial as therapist and service-related effects on outcome will be estimated. Putative change mechanisms for the two treatments are also assessed. Discussion: Cognitive behavioral and psychodynamic therapies are both evidence-based approaches that are routinely offered to panic disordered patients in Sweden. However, little is known about the relative effectiveness of these two approaches for panic/agoraphobia, work-related disability and healthcare utilization over the longer term. The current trial (POSE) also addresses the important but understudied issue of whether patient preference for a particular psychotherapeutic approach moderates outcome.

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