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Vol. 78, No. 5, 2009
Issue release date: August 2009
Section title: Special Article
Psychother Psychosom 2009;78:275–284
(DOI:10.1159/000228248)

The Selection and Design of Control Conditions for Randomized Controlled Trials of Psychological Interventions

Mohr D.C. · Spring B. · Freedland K.E. · Beckner V. · Arean P. · Hollon S.D. · Ockene J. · Kaplan R.
aDepartment of Preventive Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, Ill., bHines VA Medical Center, Hines, Ill., cDepartment of Psychiatry, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Mo., dDepartment of Psychiatry, University of California, San Francisco, Calif., eDepartment of Psychology, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tenn., fUniversity of Massachusetts Medical School, Worchester, Mass., and gSchool of Public Health, University of California, Los Angeles, Calif., USA

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Article / Publication Details

First-Page Preview
Abstract of Special Article

Received: 6/17/2008
Accepted: 10/31/2008
Published online: 7/11/2009

Number of Print Pages: 10
Number of Figures: 0
Number of Tables: 1

ISSN: 0033-3190 (Print)
eISSN: 1423-0348 (Online)

For additional information: http://www.karger.com/PPS

Abstract

The randomized controlled trial (RCT) provides critical support for evidence-based practice using psychological interventions. The control condition is the principal method of removing the influence of unwanted variables in RCTs. There is little agreement or consistency in the design and construction of control conditions. Because control conditions have variable effects, the results of RCTs can depend as much on control condition selection as on the experimental intervention. The aim of this paper is to present a framework for the selection and design of control conditions for these trials. Threats to internal validity arising from modern RCT methodology are reviewed and reconsidered. The strengths and weaknesses of several categories of control conditions are examined, including the ones that are under experimental control, the ones that are under the control of clinical service providers, and no-treatment controls. Considerations in the selection of control conditions are discussed and several recommendations are proposed. The aim of this paper is to begin to define principles by which control conditions can be selected or developed in a manner that can assist both investigators and grant reviewers.


Article / Publication Details

First-Page Preview
Abstract of Special Article

Received: 6/17/2008
Accepted: 10/31/2008
Published online: 7/11/2009

Number of Print Pages: 10
Number of Figures: 0
Number of Tables: 1

ISSN: 0033-3190 (Print)
eISSN: 1423-0348 (Online)

For additional information: http://www.karger.com/PPS


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Copyright: All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be translated into other languages, reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, microcopying, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher or, in the case of photocopying, direct payment of a specified fee to the Copyright Clearance Center.
Drug Dosage: The authors and the publisher have exerted every effort to ensure that drug selection and dosage set forth in this text are in accord with current recommendations and practice at the time of publication. However, in view of ongoing research, changes in goverment regulations, and the constant flow of information relating to drug therapy and drug reactions, the reader is urged to check the package insert for each drug for any changes in indications and dosage and for added warnings and precautions. This is particularly important when the recommended agent is a new and/or infrequently employed drug.
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