This study examined (a) duration of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) as a moderator of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) versus its components (cognitive therapy and self-control desensitization) and (b) increases in dynamic flexibility of anxious symptoms during the course of psychotherapy as a mediator of this moderation. Degree of dynamic flexibility in daily symptoms was quantified as the inverse of spectral power due to daily to intradaily oscillations in four-times-daily diary data (Fisher, Newman, & Molenaar, 2011). This was a secondary analysis of the data of Borkovec, Newman, Pincus, and Lytle (2002). Seventy-six participants with a principle diagnosis of GAD were assigned randomly to combined CBT (n = 24), cognitive therapy (n = 25), or self-control desensitization (n = 27). Duration of GAD moderated outcome such that those with longer duration showed greater reliable change from component treatments than they showed from CBT, whereas those with shorter duration fared better in response to CBT. Decreasing predictability in daily and intradaily oscillations of anxiety symptoms during therapy reflected less rigidity and more flexible responding. Increases in flexibility over the course of therapy fully mediated the moderating effect of GAD duration on condition, indicating a mediated moderation process. Individuals with longer duration of GAD may respond better to more focused treatments, whereas those with shorter duration of GAD may respond better to a treatment that offers more coping strategies. Importantly, the mechanism by which this moderation occurs appears to be the establishment of flexible responding during treatment.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Clinical Psychology
- Psychiatry and Mental health