Reducing contamination by exposure plus safety behaviour
Rachman, J., Shafran, R., Radomsky, A. and Zysk, E. (2011) Reducing contamination by exposure plus safety behaviour. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 42 (3). pp. 397-404. ISSN 0005-7916
To link to this article DOI: 10.1016/j.jbtep.2011.02.010
Background and objectives: It has been proposed that the judicious use of safety behaviour can facilitate improvements in the acceptability of cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT). It was decided to explore the possibility of facilitating CBT by introducing a form of safety behaviour.We sought to assess the degree to which Exposure plus Safety Behaviour (E þ SB) is an effective intervention for contamination fears. Methods: A comparison was made between the effects of a control condition (Exposure and Response Prevention; ERP) and an experimental condition (Exposure plus Safety Behaviour; E þ SB) in which each exposure to a contaminant was followed by the use of a hygienic wipe in a sample of (n ¼ 80) undergraduate students. In session one, each participant touched a confirmed contaminant 20 times. After each exposure participants were asked to report their feelings of contamination, fear, disgust, and danger. In the second session, two weeks later, the same procedure was carried out for a further 16 trials. Results: The ERP and the E þ SB conditions both produced large, significant and stable reductions in contamination. Significant reductions in fear, danger and disgust were also reported in both conditions. Limitations: The treatment was provided to an analogue sample and over two sessions. Conclusions: The use of hygienic wipes, the safety behaviour used in this experiment, did not preclude significant reductions in contamination, disgust, fear and danger. If it is replicated and extended over a longer time-frame, this finding may enable practitioners to enhance the acceptability of cognitive behavioural treatments and boost their effectiveness.
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