University of Twente Student Theses


Effects of a Dot-Probe Training for Patients suffering from Major Depressive Disorder : a Randomized Controlled Trial

Steeger, T. (2015) Effects of a Dot-Probe Training for Patients suffering from Major Depressive Disorder : a Randomized Controlled Trial.

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Abstract:Aim. Major depressive disorder is one of the foremost mental disorders, with a high prevalence of relapse. Individuals suffering from major depressive disorder show maintained attention to negative information and less attention to positive information. This attentional bias is considered to influence the maintenance and relapse of depressive disorder. This study examined the effects of a dot-probe training to reduce the attentional bias in patients suffering from major depressive disorder. Method. The design of the study was a randomized controlled trial. A sample of 29 patients in clinical or day clinical stay and with DSM-IV diagnosis of major depressive disorder participated in the experiment. They were randomly assigned to an experimental (n = 14) or a placebo control condition (n = 15) of a dot-probe training. This dot-probe training consisted of four training sessions using neutral and positive stimuli. Reaction times were measured to analyze the direction and severity of attentional bias. The severity of depression was measured with the Beck Depression Inventory-II, Hamilton Rating Scale and State Trait Anxiety Inventory-Form X. Results. Prior to the training, the scores implicated an attentional bias on neutral stimuli in the experimental group but not in the control group. This indicated a baseline difference between the two groups. Although no interactional effects were found between the attentional bias at the beginning and after the training, a main effect of condition on the attentional bias was conducted. After following the training, the attentional bias of the experimental group did not significantly change but shifted in a positive direction. In the control condition participants paid more attention to neutral stimuli instead of positive stimuli and a significant increase in the attentional bias was found after the training. No significant learning effect was examined over four sessions of the training but stabilization and shift in a positive direction was found after the second session. The improvement of the attentional bias was not related to the reduction of depressive symptoms. Discussion. The results indicate that the training had no significant positive effect to decrease the attentional bias. The comparison between the experimental and control condition showed, however, that not following the training had a negative impact on the attentional bias. The effects should therefore be seen from a different point of view. The focus should lay on the prevention of not worsen the attentional bias in the first place. This could be further analyzed with the focus on comparing the relapse prevalence of participants following a training compared to participants following placebo training. On some points the dot-probe training can be improved and further research to investigate the effects of the training is necessary. Suggestions for future research are provided.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:77 psychology
Programme:Psychology MSc (66604)
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