- Effectiveness of two web-based cognitive bias modification interventions targeting approach and attentional bias in gambling problems
- Study protocol for a pilot randomised controlled trial
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- Number of pages
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- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Psychology Research Institute (PsyRes)
BACKGROUND: Disordered gamblers have phenotypical and pathological similarities to those with substance use disorders (SUD), including exaggerated automatic cognitive processing of motivationally salient gambling cues in the environment (i.e., attentional and approach bias). Cognitive bias modification (CBM) is a family of computerised interventions that have proved effective in successfully re-training these automatic cognitive biases in SUD. CBM interventions can, in principle, be administered online, thus showing potential of being a low-cost, low-threshold addition to conventional treatments. This paper presents the design of a pilot randomised controlled trial exploring the effectiveness of two web-based CBM interventions targeting attentional and approach bias towards gambling cues in a sample of Dutch and Belgian problematic and pathological gamblers.
METHODS/DESIGN: Participants (N = 182) are community-recruited adults experiencing gambling problems, who have gambled at least twice in the past 6 months and are motivated to change their gambling behaviour. After a baseline assessment session, participants are randomly assigned to one of four experimental conditions (attentional or approach bias training, or the placebo version of the two trainings) and complete six sessions of training. At baseline and before each training session, participants receive automated personalised feedback on their gambling motives and reasons to quit or reduce gambling. The post-intervention, 1-month, and 3-month follow-up assessments will examine changes in gambling behaviour, with frequency and expenditure as primary outcomes, and depressive symptoms and gambling-related attentional and approach biases as secondary outcomes. Secondary analyses will explore possible moderators (interference control capacity and trait impulsivity) and mediators (change in cognitive bias) of training effects on the primary outcomes.
DISCUSSION: This study is the first to explore the effectiveness of an online CBM intervention for gambling problems. The results of this study can be extremely valuable for developing e-health interventions for gambling problems and further understanding the role of motivational implicit cognitive processes underlying problematic gambling behaviour.
TRIAL REGISTRATION: Netherlands Trial Register, NTR5096 . Registered on 11 March 2015.
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