Personalized attention control therapy for PTSD: effectiveness and moderators of outcome in a randomized controlled trial

Adva Segal*, Daniel S. Pine, Yair Bar-Haim

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background Previous randomized controlled trials (RCTs) suggest that attention control therapy (ACT), targeting aberrant fluctuations of attention toward and away from threats in patients with PTSD, may be effective in reducing symptoms. The current RCT examined whether the use of personalized-trauma stimuli enhances ACT efficacy in patients with PTSD. Additional moderators of treatment outcome were tested on an exploratory basis. Methods Sixty patients with PTSD were randomly assigned to either personalized ACT, non-personalized ACT, or a control condition. Changes in symptoms were examined across pre-treatment, post-treatment, and a 3-month follow-up. Attentional interference was examined pre- and post-treatment. Baseline clinical and cognitive indices as well as the time elapsed since the trauma were tested as potential moderators of treatment outcome. Results A significant reduction in clinical symptoms was noted for all three conditions with no between-group differences. Attention bias variability decreased following ACT treatment. Personalized ACT was more effective relative to the control condition when less time had elapsed since the trauma. Baseline clinical and cognitive indices did not moderate treatment outcome. Conclusions In this RCT of patients with PTSD, ACT was no more effective in reducing PTSD symptoms than a control condition. The data also suggest a potential benefit of personalized ACT for patients who experienced their trauma more recently.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2365-2375
Number of pages11
JournalPsychological Medicine
Issue number12
StatePublished - Sep 2022


  • Attention control therapy
  • PTSD
  • randomized control trial


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