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Original Research ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Psychol. | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.02411

Large-group one-session treatment: feasibility in highly height fearful individuals and predictors of outcome

 Andre Wannemueller1*,  Piotr Gruszka1, Sarah Chwalek1*,  Sonja Fröhlich1, Miriam Mulders1,  Svenja Schaumburg1, Johanna Schöttes1, Sonja Wiederhold1 and  Jürgen Margraf1
  • 1Forschungs- und Behandlungszentrum für psychische Gesundheit (FBZ), Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Germany

Objective: Exposure based large-group one-session treatments (LG-OSTs) proved feasible in different situational fears and showed promising short- and long-term outcomes. Based on prior LG-OST protocols we explored feasibility and effectiveness of an LG-OST protocol in four cohorts of highly height fearful individuals (N = 104). Moreover, we aimed to identify predictors of LG-OST in order to provide individualized treatment recommendations in the future. Method: Participants’ height fear was assessed at pre- and post-treatment as well as at five months follow-up using questionnaires and a behavioral approach test (BAT). Pre-treatment indices of negative emotional traits and positive mental health, the extent by which fear-evoking expectancies were violated during exposure, and post-treatment group perception processes were assessed in order to predict the outcome. Results: The LG-OST procedure proved feasible and effective in terms of both subjective and behavioral height fear. Post-treatment effects sizes of height fear questionnaires ranged between d = 0.94 – 1.43. After the treatment, about half of the participants (49.5%) were able to ascend an aerial fire ladder up to a maximum of 30 meters (vs. pre-treatment 17.3%). Follow up results showed the long-term stability of effects. Among psychological constructs, positive mental health and expectancy violation were the strongest predictors of LG-OST long-term outcome. Conclusions: We conclude that exposure based LG-OST are feasible, effective and very efficient compared to individual face-to-face settings. Thus, they represent very promising treatment alternatives for situational fears including height-fear. Moreover, clinical research may benefit from LG-OST protocols as its high standardization may facilitate the search for mediators and moderators of exposure outcomes.

Keywords: exposure treatment, group treatment, One-Session Treatment, large-group one-session treatment, height phobia

Received: 05 Jun 2019; Accepted: 09 Oct 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 Wannemueller, Gruszka, Chwalek, Fröhlich, Mulders, Schaumburg, Schöttes, Wiederhold and Margraf. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence:
Dr. Andre Wannemueller, Forschungs- und Behandlungszentrum für psychische Gesundheit (FBZ), Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Bochum, 44787, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, andre.wannemueller@rub.de
Ms. Sarah Chwalek, Forschungs- und Behandlungszentrum für psychische Gesundheit (FBZ), Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Bochum, 44787, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, sarah.chwalek@rub.de