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Woud, Marcella L.; Zlomuzica, Armin; Cwik, Jan C.; Margraf, Jürgen; Shkreli, Lorika; Blackwell, Simon E.; Gladwin, Thomas E. and Ehring, Thomas (2018): Effects of appraisal training on responses to a distressing autobiographical event. In: Journal of Anxiety Disorders, Vol. 56: pp. 26-34

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Dysfunctional appraisals are a key factor suggested to be involved in the development and maintenance of PTSD. Research has shown that experimental induction of a positive or negative appraisal style following a laboratory stressor affects analogue posttraumatic stress symptoms. This supports a causal role of appraisal in the development of traumatic stress symptoms and the therapeutic promise of modifying appraisals to reduce PTSD symptoms. The present study aimed to extend previous findings by investigating the effects of experimentally induced appraisals on reactions to a naturally occurring analogue trauma and by examining effects on both explicit and implicit appraisals. Participants who had experienced a distressing life event were asked to imagine themselves in the most distressing moment of that event and then received either a positive or negative Cognitive Bias Modification training targeting appraisals (CBM-App). The CBM-App training induced training-congruent appraisals, but group differences in changes in appraisal over training were only seen for explicit and not implicit appraisals. However, participants trained positively reported less intrusion distress over the subsequent week than those trained negatively, and lower levels of overall posttraumatic stress symptoms. These data support the causal relationship between appraisals and trauma distress, and further illuminate the mechanisms linking the two.

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