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Testing the Use of Interoceptive Exposure to Reduce Barriers to Psychotherapy

The recruitment status of this study is unknown. The completion date has passed and the status has not been verified in more than two years.
Verified November 2008 by G.V. (Sonny) Montgomery VA Medical Center.
Recruitment status was:  Recruiting
Information provided by:
G.V. (Sonny) Montgomery VA Medical Center Identifier:
First received: November 19, 2008
Last updated: November 20, 2008
Last verified: November 2008
To assess the effectiveness of Interoceptive Exposure (IE) as a treatment to reduce negative cognitions and arousal in a veteran sample during an anxiety-inducing situation (i.e., the Trier Social Stressor Task - an analogue to the anxiety of undergoing exposure-based treatment). After completing the initial screening, qualifying participants will complete a pre-intervention assessment at UMC (structured clinical interview, self-report measures, and a treatment-engagement analogue exercise). Half of the participants will be randomized into either supportive counseling or to the treatment protocol at GVSMVAMC consisting of four sessions of Interoceptive Exposure over a four week period targeting interoceptive stimuli. Veterans will be assessed a second time at UMC after treatment (5 to 6 weeks after the first assessment). Participants will include approximately 40 male OEF/OIF veterans with combat-related PTSD recruited from the Trauma Recovery Program (TRP) and Post-deployment Clinic at the G.V. (Sonny) Montgomery VAMC (GVSMVAMC). Following the pre-intervention assessment, veterans will be randomized into one of two groups. Half of the veterans (n = 20) will receive received four weeks of supportive counseling while the other half will receive four weeks of Interoceptive Exposure (IE). The proposed study examines anxiety sensitivity (AS) as a possible barrier to treatment engagement in exposure therapy for PTSD. AS is a dispositional cognitive characteristic defined as the fear of sensations directly related to autonomic arousal that arises from the belief that these sensations have harmful consequences. Interoceptive Exposure (IE) is an intervention that: 1) helps individuals with high AS increase their tolerance to the somatic sensations of arousal; and 2) promotes an adaptive appraisal of fear-related sensations The current study will use a social stressor task to assess the affect of IE on AS and avoidance among veterans who have PTSD, thereby increasing the likelihood that a veteran will enter into, and remain in, treatment for PTSD.

Condition Intervention
Behavioral: Interoceptive Exposure

Study Type: Interventional
Study Design: Allocation: Randomized
Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment
Masking: Open Label
Primary Purpose: Treatment
Official Title: Testing the Use of Interoceptive Exposure to Reduce Barriers to Psychotherapy

Resource links provided by NLM:

Further study details as provided by G.V. (Sonny) Montgomery VA Medical Center:

Primary Outcome Measures:
  • Anxiety Sensitivity Index-3 [ Time Frame: 2 months ]

Estimated Enrollment: 40
Study Start Date: November 2008
Estimated Primary Completion Date: November 2009 (Final data collection date for primary outcome measure)
Arms Assigned Interventions
Experimental: IE
Participants will complete an at home four-week, intervention targeting their negative cognitions triggered by physical sensations. The goal of IE is to purposefully induce bodily sensations related to autonomic arousal so that participants can learn that those sensations are not harmful. IE and Cognitive restructuring have been found to be superior to progressive muscle relaxation as a way to avoid aversive autonomic sensations.
Behavioral: Interoceptive Exposure
Exposure to internal stimuli.
No Intervention: 2
waitlist control


Ages Eligible for Study:   18 Years to 65 Years   (Adult)
Sexes Eligible for Study:   Male
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   Yes

Inclusion Criteria:

  • Interested OEF/OIF veterans with a reported history of combat-related trauma, probable PTSD diagnosis (score above 44 on the PTSD Checklist), scores above 28 on the Anxiety Sensitivity Index (ASI), and who have been medically cleared will be invited to participate (study personnel will assist the participant in getting clearance from their primary care physician or TRP staff).

Exclusion Criteria:

  • Veterans will be excluded if they are judged to have medical conditions that might limit cooperation or compromise the integrity of the self-report or psychophysiological data (e.g., uncontrolled blood pressure, severe asthma, dementia, psychotic disorder, acute mania, current substance abuse, or taking medications that would reduce physiological responding). Veterans who are currently receiving (or who are scheduled to begin) individual exposure-based treatment for PTSD will be excluded from the study. As this project is designed as a pilot study, no exclusions will be made based on previous treatment or previous treatment refusal; however, treatment history data will be collected.
  Contacts and Locations
Choosing to participate in a study is an important personal decision. Talk with your doctor and family members or friends about deciding to join a study. To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the Contacts provided below. For general information, see Learn About Clinical Studies.

Please refer to this study by its identifier: NCT00795379

Contact: Kevin S Del Ben, Ph.D. 601-984-5807

United States, Mississippi
G.V. (Sonny) Montgomery VAMC Recruiting
Jackson, Mississippi, United States, 39216
Contact: Kevin S Del Ben, Ph.D.    601-984-5807   
Sponsors and Collaborators
G.V. (Sonny) Montgomery VA Medical Center
  More Information

Responsible Party: Kevin S. Del Ben, Ph.D. Assistant Professor, G.V. (Sonny) Montgomery VA Medical Center Identifier: NCT00795379     History of Changes
Other Study ID Numbers: MIRECC 5-1006
Study First Received: November 19, 2008
Last Updated: November 20, 2008

Keywords provided by G.V. (Sonny) Montgomery VA Medical Center:
Psychotherapy processed this record on April 25, 2017