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In pursuit of truth: A critical examination of meta-analyses of cognitive behavior therapy


Wampold, Bruce E; Flückiger, Christoph; Del Re, A C; Yulish, Noah E; Frost, Nickolas D; Pace, Brian T; Goldberg, Simon Benjamin; Miller, Scott D; Baardseth, Timothy P; Laska, Kevin M; Hilsenroth, Mark J (2017). In pursuit of truth: A critical examination of meta-analyses of cognitive behavior therapy. Psychotherapy Research, 27(1):14-32.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE: Three recent meta-analyses have made the claim, albeit with some caveats, that cognitive-behavioral treatments (CBT) are superior to other psychotherapies, in general or for specific disorders (e.g., social phobia).

METHOD: The purpose of the present article was to examine four issues in meta-analysis that mitigate claims of CBT superiority: (a) effect size, power, and statistical significance, (b) focusing on disorder-specific symptom measures and ignoring other important indicators of psychological functioning, (c) problems inherent in classifying treatments provided in primary studies into classes of treatments, and (d) the inclusion of problematic trials, which biases the results, and the exclusion of trials that fail to find differences among treatments.

RESULTS: When these issues are examined, the effects demonstrating the superiority of CBT are small, nonsignificant for the most part, limited to targeted symptoms, or are due to flawed primary studies.

CONCLUSION: Meta-analytic evidence for the superiority of CBT in the three meta-analysis are nonexistent or weak.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE: Three recent meta-analyses have made the claim, albeit with some caveats, that cognitive-behavioral treatments (CBT) are superior to other psychotherapies, in general or for specific disorders (e.g., social phobia).

METHOD: The purpose of the present article was to examine four issues in meta-analysis that mitigate claims of CBT superiority: (a) effect size, power, and statistical significance, (b) focusing on disorder-specific symptom measures and ignoring other important indicators of psychological functioning, (c) problems inherent in classifying treatments provided in primary studies into classes of treatments, and (d) the inclusion of problematic trials, which biases the results, and the exclusion of trials that fail to find differences among treatments.

RESULTS: When these issues are examined, the effects demonstrating the superiority of CBT are small, nonsignificant for the most part, limited to targeted symptoms, or are due to flawed primary studies.

CONCLUSION: Meta-analytic evidence for the superiority of CBT in the three meta-analysis are nonexistent or weak.

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3 citations in Web of Science®
2 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Date:January 2017
Deposited On:06 Mar 2017 12:01
Last Modified:07 Mar 2017 08:48
Publisher:Taylor & Francis
ISSN:1050-3307
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1080/10503307.2016.1249433
PubMed ID:27884095

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