Despite accumulating evidence suggesting the effectiveness of Attention Bias Modification (ABM) in adults, little is known about its efficacy in children and adolescents. As anxiety has been the chief target in most studies and research in this area has grown rapidly in recent years, we conducted the first meta-analysis to establish the effects of ABM alone for anxiety disorders in children and adolescents.
Studies were identified through a systematic search in three main databases: PubMed, EMBASE and PsycInfo, resulting in 17 randomized studies. The quality of these studies, possible publication bias and moderators were then examined. ABM had small but significant effects on clinician-rated anxiety symptoms and attention bias towards threat, while the effect on self or parent-reported anxiety measures was non-significant. Evidence quality ranged from moderate to very low. ABM was more effective when conducted as a stand-alone treatment than as an adjunct to other treatments. In addition, younger age and larger number of training sessions were associated with a greater reduction in clinician-rated anxiety symptoms.
Results indicate that ABM may have significant effects on anxiety and attention bias in children and adolescents. Overall, the effects of ABM are mainly evident when clinical outcome is assessed by a clinician. Copyright © 2021
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