Evaluation of an interpretation bias modification program targeting internalizing symptoms in secondary school students
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The current study evaluated an intervention that supports secondary school students with internalizing symptoms through a computerized Interpretation Bias Modification program. The program is defined by multiple training sessions that reinforce the adoption of more positive interpretations of ambiguous social scenarios. The program's goal is to increase the accuracy and speed with which students can judge the threat-based nature of events they are likely to encounter in their day-to-day lives. As students' progress through the training program, measurements were made regarding their 'online' and 'offline' processing biases and the association to cognitive and behavioral internalizing symptoms known to maintain depressive and anxious conditions. The randomized waitlist control trial design was conducted with students ages 11-18, drawn from school and community samples. The researchers compared internalizing behavior of the treatment group (N = 56) to the participant outcomes in the waitlist control group (N = 45). The variables of interest were measures of anxiety, depression, and patterns of negative thought that embody both conditions. Variables related to Primary findings from t-tests, ANCOVA, growth curve analysis, and linear mixed-effects model regressions indicated significant differences between the training conditions and within the training condition as a function of training. Researchers identified a medium effects size on reductions in depressive symptoms within the treatment group. There were positive findings regarding the acceptability of the interpretation bias training intervention. Limitations and future directions for this area of research are discussed.