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Altering Dynamics of Autonomic Processing Therapy (ADAPT) trial: a novel, targeted treatment for reducing anxiety in joint hypermobility


Background: Hypermobility is a poorly recognised and understood musculoskeletal disorder thought to affect around 20% of the population. Hypermobility is associated with reduced physiological and psychological functioning and quality of life and is a known risk factor for the development of an anxiety disorder. To date, no evidence-based, targeted treatment for anxiety in the context of hypermobility exists. The present intervention (ADAPT-Altering Dynamics of Autonomic Processing Therapy) is a novel therapy combining bio-behavioural training with cognitive approaches from clinical health psychology targeting the catastrophisation of internal sensations, with aim to improve autonomic trait prediction error.

Method: Eighty individuals with diagnosed hypermobility will be recruited and the efficacy of ADAPT to treat anxiety will be compared to an Emotion-Focused Supportive Therapy (EFST) comparator therapy in a randomised controlled trial. The primary treatment target will be post therapy score on the Beck Anxiety Inventory, and secondary outcomes will also be considered in relation to interoception, depression, alexithymia, social and work adjustment, panic symptoms and dissociation. Due to COVID restrictions, the intervention will be moved to online delivery and qualitative assessment of treatment tolerance to online therapy will also be assessed.

Discussion: Online delivery of an intervention targeting anxiety would improve the quality of life for those experiencing anxiety disorder and help to reduce the £11.7 billion that anxiety disorders cost the UK economy annually.

Trial registration: World Health Organization ISRCTN17018615 . Registered on 20th February 2019; trial protocol version 2.


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