The Efficacy of Stimulus Control for Worry
McGowan, Sarah Kate
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Although worry is a part of the human experience, excessive worry is a central symptom of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). For individuals with GAD, worry becomes associated with numerous aspects of life (e.g., time of day, specific stimuli, environmental cues) and is thus under poor stimulus control. Additionally, excessive worry is associated with sleep difficulties and poor sleep quality. This investigation seeks to provide empirical support for the use of stimulus control procedures in the treatment of worry. Forty-six participants were randomly assigned to receive two weeks of either Stimulus Control training (consisting of a 30-minute time-and place-restricted worry period each day) or Acceptance Training (consisting of the non-avoidance of worry), which served as a placebo control condition. The Stimulus Control Training condition was superior to the Acceptance Training condition at post-training on measures of worry, anxiety, negative affect, and insomnia symptoms. Additionally, Stimulus Control Training produced greater clinically significant change compared to Acceptance Training on measures of worry, anxiety, and depression. Results support the efficacy of Stimulus Control Training for worry and suggest the utility of including these techniques in larger treatment packages for GAD.