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Efficacy of cognitive bias modification interventions in anxiety and depression: Meta-analysis

  • Ioana A. Cristea (a1), Robin N. Kok (a2) and Pim Cuijpers (a3)
Abstract
Background

Cognitive bias modification (CBM) interventions are strongly advocated in research and clinical practice.

Aims

To examine the efficiency of CBM for clinically relevant outcomes, along with study quality, publication bias and potential moderators.

Method

We included randomised controlled trials (RCTs) of CBM interventions that reported clinically relevant outcomes assessed with standardised instruments.

Results

We identified 49 trials and grouped outcomes into anxiety and depression. Effect sizes were small considering all the samples, and mostly non-significant for patient samples. Effect sizes became non-significant when outliers were excluded and after adjustment for publication bias. The quality of the RCTs was suboptimal.

Conclusions

CBM may have small effects on mental health problems, but it is also very well possible that there are no significant clinically relevant effects. Research in this field is hampered by small and low-quality trials, and by risk of publication bias. Many positive outcomes are driven by extreme outliers.

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Copyright
Corresponding author
Ioana A. Cristea, Department of Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, Babes-Bolyai University, Republicii Street 37, 400015, Cluj-Napoca, Romania. Email: ioana.cristea@ubbcluj.ro
Footnotes
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Declaration of interest

None.

Footnotes
References
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Efficacy of cognitive bias modification interventions in anxiety and depression: Meta-analysis

  • Ioana A. Cristea (a1), Robin N. Kok (a2) and Pim Cuijpers (a3)
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