The effects of retrieval versus rehearsal of online problem-solving therapy sessions on recall, problem-solving skills and distress in distressed individuals: An experimental study

Sanne J.E. Bruijniks*, Marit Sijbrandij, Marcus J.H. Huibers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Background and objectives: Improving memory for the content of therapy sessions might increase the effects of psychological interventions. Previous studies showed that healthy individuals who took a memory test (retrieval) of studied material showed better long-term memory retention than individuals who restudied (rehearsal) the material. The aim of the current study was to find out whether we can translate these findings to a subclinical setting. Methods: Individuals with moderate levels of distress were randomized into retrieving (n = 46) or rehearsing (n = 49) four weekly sessions of online Problem-Solving Therapy (PST). Session recall, problem-solving skills and distress were measured at baseline, three days after each session and at one-week follow-up. Results: Retrieval led to overall higher recall, but this difference disappeared when controlling for the time spent on retrieval versus rehearsal. Retrieval did not lead to better problem-solving skills or less distress, compared to rehearsal. Baseline working memory performance moderated the effect of condition on recall after controlling for the time spent on retrieval versus rehearsal: the effect of retrieval compared to rehearsal on recall was larger for individuals with lower working memory performance. Limitations: The sample mostly consisted of university students with overall high working memory scores. Conclusions: This study provided the first evidence that retrieval of the content of PST sessions may lead to better session recall compared to rehearsal of the PST sessions in individuals with a low working memory score. Implications for the use of cognitive support strategies within a therapeutic setting are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101485
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry
Volume66
Early online date16 May 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2020

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2019 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Keywords

  • Memory
  • Problem-solving therapy
  • Psychological distress
  • Retrieval
  • Treatment process

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