Attention Bias Modification Treatment Versus a Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor Or Waiting List Control for Social Anxiety Disorder: A Randomized Clinical Trial

Gal Arad, Omer Azriel, Daniel S. Pine, Amit Lazarov, Omer Sol, Mark Weiser, Eddie Garber, Miki Bloch, Yair Bar-Haim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

OBJECTIVE: Social anxiety disorder is common and impairing. The efficacy of pharmacotherapy is moderate, highlighting the need for alternative therapies. This study compared the efficacy of gaze-contingent music reward therapy (GC-MRT), an eye-tracking-based attention bias modification treatment, with a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) treatment or a waiting list control condition in reducing social anxiety disorder symptoms. Superior clinical effects of similar magnitude were expected for the active treatments relative to the control condition. METHODS: Participants were 105 treatment-seeking adults with social anxiety disorder, randomly allocated to 12 weeks of GC-MRT, SSRI, or waiting list control. Mean changes in clinician-rated and self-reported social anxiety symptoms from baseline to mid- and posttreatment assessments were compared between groups using generalized estimating equations. Changes in attentional dwell time on threat were also examined. RESULTS: Analysis indicated a significant differential reduction in symptoms between groups. Patients in the GC-MRT and SSRI groups had lower social anxiety scores at the mid- and posttreatment assessments compared with patients in the waiting list group. The efficacy of the active treatments did not differ. Only patients in the GC-MRT group showed reduction in dwell time on threat from baseline to posttreatment assessment. CONCLUSIONS: Eye-tracking-based attention bias modification is an acceptable and effective treatment option for social anxiety disorder.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)357-366
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Journal of Psychiatry
Volume180
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 May 2023

Keywords

  • Antidepressants
  • Anxiety Disorders
  • SSRIs
  • Social Anxiety Disorder

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