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Employing open/hidden administration in psychotherapy research: A randomized-controlled trial of expressive writing


Tondorf, Theresa; Kaufmann, Lisa-Katrin; Degel, Alexander; Locher, Cosima; Birkhäuer, Johanna; Gerger, Heike; Ehlert, Ulrike; Gaab, Jens (2017). Employing open/hidden administration in psychotherapy research: A randomized-controlled trial of expressive writing. PLoS ONE, 12(11):e0187400.

Abstract

Psychotherapy has been shown to be effective, but efforts to prove specific effects by placebo-controlled trials have been practically and conceptually hampered. We propose that adopting open/hidden designs from placebo research would offer a possible way to establish specificity in psychotherapy. Therefore, we tested the effects of providing opposing treatment rationales in an online expressive writing intervention on affect in healthy subjects. Results indicate that it was possible to conduct the expressive writing intervention both covertly and openly, but that participants in the hidden administration condition did not fully benefit from the otherwise effective expressive writing intervention in the long-run. Effect sizes between open and hidden administration groups were comparable to pre-post effect sizes of the intervention. While this finding is important for the understanding of psychotherapy's effects per se, it also proves that alternative research approaches to establish specificity are feasible and informative in psychotherapy research.

TRIAL REGISTRATION: German Clinical Trials Register DRKS00009428.

Abstract

Psychotherapy has been shown to be effective, but efforts to prove specific effects by placebo-controlled trials have been practically and conceptually hampered. We propose that adopting open/hidden designs from placebo research would offer a possible way to establish specificity in psychotherapy. Therefore, we tested the effects of providing opposing treatment rationales in an online expressive writing intervention on affect in healthy subjects. Results indicate that it was possible to conduct the expressive writing intervention both covertly and openly, but that participants in the hidden administration condition did not fully benefit from the otherwise effective expressive writing intervention in the long-run. Effect sizes between open and hidden administration groups were comparable to pre-post effect sizes of the intervention. While this finding is important for the understanding of psychotherapy's effects per se, it also proves that alternative research approaches to establish specificity are feasible and informative in psychotherapy research.

TRIAL REGISTRATION: German Clinical Trials Register DRKS00009428.

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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
Scopus Subject Areas:Life Sciences > General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
Life Sciences > General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
Health Sciences > Multidisciplinary
Language:English
Date:2017
Deposited On:29 Nov 2017 09:53
Last Modified:08 Apr 2020 22:07
Publisher:Public Library of Science (PLoS)
ISSN:1932-6203
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:PubMed ID. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0187400
PubMed ID:29176768

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