Patients’ outcome expectancies and the working alliance are two psychotherapy process variables that researchers have found to be associated with treatment outcome, irrespective of treatment approach and problem area. Despite this, little is known about the mechanisms accounting for this association, and whether contextual factors (e.g., psychotherapy type) impact the strength of these relationships. The primary aim of this study was to examine whether patient-rated working alliance quality mediates the relationship between outcome expectancies and pre- to post-treatment change in anxiety symptoms using data from a recent randomized clinical trial comparing a transdiagnostic treatment (the Unified Protocol [UP]; Barlow et al., Unified protocol for transdiagnostic treatment of emotional disorders: Client workbook, Oxford University Press, New York, 2011a; Barlow et al., Unified protocol for transdiagnostic treatment of emotional disorders: Patient workbook. New York: Oxford University Press, 2017b) to single diagnosis protocols (SDPs) for patients with a principal heterogeneous anxiety disorder (n = 179). The second aim was to explore whether cognitive-behavioral treatment condition (UP vs. SDP) moderated this indirect relationship. Results from mediation and moderated mediation models indicated that, when collapsing across the two treatment conditions, the relationship between expectancies and outcome was partially mediated by the working alliance [B = 0.037, SE = 0.05, 95% CI (.005, 0.096)]. Interestingly, within-condition analyses showed that this conditional indirect effect was only present for SDP patients, whereas in the UP condition, working alliance did not account for the association between expectancies and outcome. These findings suggest that outcome expectancies and working alliance quality may interact to influence treatment outcomes, and that the nature and strength of the relationships among these constructs may differ as a function of the specific cognitive-behavioral treatment approach utilized.
Cognitive Therapy and Research – Springer Journals
Published: Apr 25, 2017
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