Category: Transdiagnostic

Spotlight Research Presentations

Spotlight Research - Transdiagnostic Treatment: Large-Scale Clinical Trial Comparing the Unified Protocol to Single-Diagnosis Protocols

Friday, November 17
1:45 PM - 2:45 PM
Location: Indigo Ballroom A, Level 2, Indigo Level

Keywords: Clinical Trial | Adult Anxiety | Transdiagnostic

The latest development in evidence-based treatment can be found in psychological treatments for disorders that share common underlying features and respond to similar therapeutic procedures. These "transdiagnostic" treatments may prove to be more time-efficient, cost-effective, and have the potential to increase availability of evidence-based treatments to meet a significant public health need. 


The Unified Protocol for Transdiagnostic Treatment of Emotional Disorders (UP; Barlow et al., 2011) is a cognitive-behavioral treatment that has been developed over the past decade by Boston University researchers at the Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders (CARD), with grant support from the National Institute of Mental Health. The UP is a cognitive-behavioral treatment designed to address the full range of emotional disorders (i.e., anxiety, depression, and related disorders) by targeting common core temperamental vulnerabilities that contribute to the development and maintenance of these frequently co-occurring conditions, rather than surface-level, DSM diagnostic symptoms.


This spotlight presentation will focus on results from a large (N=223) five-year NIMH-funded clinical trial comparing the efficacy of the UP to existing evidence-based protocols designed to treat diagnosis-specific symptoms (i.e., single-diagnosis protocols; SDPs). The study was designed to evaluate the hypothesis that the UP is (at least) as efficacious as SDPs in treating a range of anxiety disorders. The presentation will begin with a conceptual and descriptive overview of the transdiagnostic protocol and a brief description of the design and major procedures utilized in the clinical trial. Next, we will present posttreatment and (6- and 12-month) follow-up data on clinical outcomes for both treatment groups, including measures of clinical severity and improvement for principal and comorbid diagnoses, general symptoms of anxiety and depression, and symptom interference in daily functioning. Third, we will present changes in measures of transdiagnostic mechanisms and temperamental characteristics as a function of treatment conditions. The presentation will conclude with a discussion on implications of these findings.

Learning Objectives:


Recommended Reading: Barlow, D.H., Sauer-Zavala, S., Carl, J.R., Bullis, J. R., & Ellard, K.K. (2014). The nature, diagnosis, and treatment of neuroticism: Back to the future. Clinical Psychological Science, 2(3), 344-365.
Farchione, T. J., Fairholme, C. P., Ellard, K. K., Boisseau, C. L., Thompson-Hollands, J., Carl, J. R., ... & Barlow, D. H. (2012). Unified protocol for transdiagnostic treatment of emotional disorders: a randomized controlled trial. Behavior therapy, 43(3), 666-678.
Reinholt, N., & Krogh, J. (2014). Efficacy of transdiagnostic cognitive behaviour therapy for anxiety disorders: A systematic review and meta-analysis of published outcome studies. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, 43(3), 171-184.

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