Exposure-Based Therapy for Symptom Preoccupation in Atrial Fibrillation: An Uncontrolled Pilot Study

Josefin Särnholm*, Helga Skúladóttir, Christian Rück, Susanne S Pedersen, Frieder Braunschweig, Brjánn Ljótsson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common cardiac arrhythmia. Patients often experience a range of symptoms resulting in a markedly reduced quality of life, and commonly show symptom preoccupation in terms of avoidance and control behaviors. Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) has been shown to improve symptom burden and quality of life in other somatic disorders, but has never been evaluated in patients with AF. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the potential efficacy and feasibility of an AF-specific CBT protocol in an uncontrolled pilot study. The study included 19 patients with symptomatic paroxysmal (intermittent) atrial fibrillation who were assessed pre- and posttreatment and at 6-month follow-up. The CBT lasted 10 weeks and included exposure to physical sensations similar to AF symptoms, exposure to avoided situations or activities, and behavioral activation. We observed large within-group improvements on the primary outcome AF-specific quality of life measurement AFEQT posttreatment (Cohen's d = 1.54; p < . 001) and at 6-month follow-up (d = 1.15; p < . 001). We also observed improvements in self-reported frequency and severity of AF symptoms. All participants completed the treatment and treatment satisfaction was high. This study demonstrates the potential efficacy and feasibility of a novel CBT approach to reduce symptoms and increase quality of life in AF patients.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBehavior Therapy
Volume48
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)808-819
ISSN0005-7894
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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Keywords

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Särnholm, Josefin ; Skúladóttir, Helga ; Rück, Christian ; Pedersen, Susanne S ; Braunschweig, Frieder ; Ljótsson, Brjánn. / Exposure-Based Therapy for Symptom Preoccupation in Atrial Fibrillation : An Uncontrolled Pilot Study. In: Behavior Therapy. 2017 ; Vol. 48, No. 6. pp. 808-819.
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abstract = "Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common cardiac arrhythmia. Patients often experience a range of symptoms resulting in a markedly reduced quality of life, and commonly show symptom preoccupation in terms of avoidance and control behaviors. Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) has been shown to improve symptom burden and quality of life in other somatic disorders, but has never been evaluated in patients with AF. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the potential efficacy and feasibility of an AF-specific CBT protocol in an uncontrolled pilot study. The study included 19 patients with symptomatic paroxysmal (intermittent) atrial fibrillation who were assessed pre- and posttreatment and at 6-month follow-up. The CBT lasted 10 weeks and included exposure to physical sensations similar to AF symptoms, exposure to avoided situations or activities, and behavioral activation. We observed large within-group improvements on the primary outcome AF-specific quality of life measurement AFEQT posttreatment (Cohen's d = 1.54; p < . 001) and at 6-month follow-up (d = 1.15; p < . 001). We also observed improvements in self-reported frequency and severity of AF symptoms. All participants completed the treatment and treatment satisfaction was high. This study demonstrates the potential efficacy and feasibility of a novel CBT approach to reduce symptoms and increase quality of life in AF patients.",
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Exposure-Based Therapy for Symptom Preoccupation in Atrial Fibrillation : An Uncontrolled Pilot Study. / Särnholm, Josefin; Skúladóttir, Helga; Rück, Christian; Pedersen, Susanne S; Braunschweig, Frieder; Ljótsson, Brjánn.

In: Behavior Therapy, Vol. 48, No. 6, 2017, p. 808-819.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

TY - JOUR

T1 - Exposure-Based Therapy for Symptom Preoccupation in Atrial Fibrillation

T2 - An Uncontrolled Pilot Study

AU - Särnholm, Josefin

AU - Skúladóttir, Helga

AU - Rück, Christian

AU - Pedersen, Susanne S

AU - Braunschweig, Frieder

AU - Ljótsson, Brjánn

N1 - Copyright © 2017. Published by Elsevier Ltd.

PY - 2017

Y1 - 2017

N2 - Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common cardiac arrhythmia. Patients often experience a range of symptoms resulting in a markedly reduced quality of life, and commonly show symptom preoccupation in terms of avoidance and control behaviors. Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) has been shown to improve symptom burden and quality of life in other somatic disorders, but has never been evaluated in patients with AF. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the potential efficacy and feasibility of an AF-specific CBT protocol in an uncontrolled pilot study. The study included 19 patients with symptomatic paroxysmal (intermittent) atrial fibrillation who were assessed pre- and posttreatment and at 6-month follow-up. The CBT lasted 10 weeks and included exposure to physical sensations similar to AF symptoms, exposure to avoided situations or activities, and behavioral activation. We observed large within-group improvements on the primary outcome AF-specific quality of life measurement AFEQT posttreatment (Cohen's d = 1.54; p < . 001) and at 6-month follow-up (d = 1.15; p < . 001). We also observed improvements in self-reported frequency and severity of AF symptoms. All participants completed the treatment and treatment satisfaction was high. This study demonstrates the potential efficacy and feasibility of a novel CBT approach to reduce symptoms and increase quality of life in AF patients.

AB - Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common cardiac arrhythmia. Patients often experience a range of symptoms resulting in a markedly reduced quality of life, and commonly show symptom preoccupation in terms of avoidance and control behaviors. Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) has been shown to improve symptom burden and quality of life in other somatic disorders, but has never been evaluated in patients with AF. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the potential efficacy and feasibility of an AF-specific CBT protocol in an uncontrolled pilot study. The study included 19 patients with symptomatic paroxysmal (intermittent) atrial fibrillation who were assessed pre- and posttreatment and at 6-month follow-up. The CBT lasted 10 weeks and included exposure to physical sensations similar to AF symptoms, exposure to avoided situations or activities, and behavioral activation. We observed large within-group improvements on the primary outcome AF-specific quality of life measurement AFEQT posttreatment (Cohen's d = 1.54; p < . 001) and at 6-month follow-up (d = 1.15; p < . 001). We also observed improvements in self-reported frequency and severity of AF symptoms. All participants completed the treatment and treatment satisfaction was high. This study demonstrates the potential efficacy and feasibility of a novel CBT approach to reduce symptoms and increase quality of life in AF patients.

KW - Journal Article

U2 - 10.1016/j.beth.2017.06.001

DO - 10.1016/j.beth.2017.06.001

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VL - 48

SP - 808

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JO - Behavior Therapy

JF - Behavior Therapy

SN - 0005-7894

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