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Verbal, behavioural and physiological assessment of the generalization of exposure-based fear reduction in a spider-anxious population

Debora Vansteenwegen, Bram Vervliet, Dirk Hermans, Roy Thewissen and Paul Eelen

Revue : Behaviour Research and Therapy

Clinical fear of spiders was assessed in 39 patients before and after exposure treatment and at a 3-month follow-up. The assessment included behavioral, physiological and self-report measures. Some patients were tested in the treatment context (group Same), while others were tested in a different context (group Different). Both groups demonstrated a significant fear reduction from pre- to post-treatment in all measures, which persisted at the 3-month follow-up. Contrary to our expectations, no clear difference was observed between the groups at any moment. However, a 1-year follow-up test of the self-report measure revealed a return of fear in group Same, but not in group Different. These results show (1) that the effects of exposure treatment persisted over contexts and time in the short term, and (2) that conducting treatment and tests in different contexts enhanced efficiency of exposure treatment in the long term.

Keywords: Exposure; Phobia; Outcome; Renewal; Skin conductance



Corresponding author. Tel.: +32 16 32 61 34; fax: +32 16 32 60 99.
1 Debora Vansteenwegen is postdoctoral researcher of the Fund for Scientific Research FWO-Vlaanderen.
2 The contribution of these authors to the manuscript was equal.

Behaviour Research and Therapy, Volume 45, Issue 2 , February 2007, Pages 291-300

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