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How does cognitive behavior therapy for dissociative seizures work? A mediation analysis of the CODES trial

Psychol Med. 2024 Jan 10:1-10. doi: 10.1017/S0033291723003665. Online ahead of print.


BACKGROUND: We compared dissociative seizure specific cognitive behavior therapy (DS-CBT) plus standardized medical care (SMC) to SMC alone in a randomized controlled trial. DS-CBT resulted in better outcomes on several secondary trial outcome measures at the 12-month follow-up point. The purpose of this paper is to evaluate putative treatment mechanisms.

METHODS: We carried out a secondary mediation analysis of the CODES trial. 368 participants were recruited from the National Health Service in secondary / tertiary care in England, Scotland, and Wales. Sixteen mediation hypotheses corresponding to combinations of important trial outcomes and putative mediators were assessed. Twelve-month trial outcomes considered were final-month seizure frequency, Work and Social Adjustment Scale (WSAS), and the SF-12v2, a quality-of-life measure providing physical (PCS) and mental component summary (MCS) scores. Mediators chosen for analysis at six months (broadly corresponding to completion of DS-CBT) included: (a) beliefs about emotions, (b) a measure of avoidance behavior, (c) anxiety and (d) depression.

RESULTS: All putative mediator variables except beliefs about emotions were found to be improved by DS-CBT. We found evidence for DS-CBT effect mediation for the outcome variables dissociative seizures (DS), WSAS and SF-12v2 MCS scores by improvements in target variables avoidance behavior, anxiety, and depression. The only variable to mediate the DS-CBT effect on the SF-12v2 PCS score was avoidance behavior.

CONCLUSIONS: Our findings largely confirmed the logic model underlying the development of CBT for patients with DS. Interventions could be additionally developed to specifically address beliefs about emotions to assess whether it improves outcomes.

PMID:38197148 | DOI:10.1017/S0033291723003665

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