Original Article

The Effect of Attentional Avoidance, Attentional Focusing, and Mindfulness on the Frequency of Voice-Hearing and Associated Distress in People with Schizophrenia: A Randomized Controlled trial


Objective: The objective of this study was to determine the most effective coping mechanism to deal with auditory hallucinations that reduces the frequency of voice-hearing and associated distress. In the present randomized controlled trial, each of the three coping mechanisms of attentional avoidance, attentional focusing, and mindfulness were used in one group and the fourth group was the control group.

Method: A total of 64 patients with schizophrenia, categorized in three groups of attentional avoidance, attentional focusing and mindfulness and one control group, were asked to listen to an ambiguous auditory task depending on the type of their coping mechanism. After determining the baseline of distress, the task was performed in duplicate for each group. After playing the auditory task for the first time, participants were asked to rate out the level of their distress and compliance with instructions, and they were asked to estimate the likely number of words they had heard. After the second time, they were asked to note the words they hear during the task and rate out their distress and compliance with instructions again at the end of the task.

Results: There was a significant difference between groups in terms of distress with a medium effect size of 0.47. The post hoc analysis revealed that mindfulness group reported less distress compared to the attentional focusing group (P = 0.017) and the control group (P = 0.027). Also, a significant difference existed between groups in terms of the frequency of the identified words, with a moderately strong effect size of 0.59, and a very good statistical power of 0.99. The post hoc analysis showed that attentional avoidance (P = 0.013) and attentional focusing (P = 0.011) groups heard fewer words than the control group.

Conclusion: Attention is a good target for treating psychotic patients with auditory hallucinations. Also, manipulation of attention can affect the frequency of auditory hallucinations and associated distress.

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IssueVol 18 No 2 (2023) QRcode
SectionOriginal Article(s)
Auditory Hallucinations Engagement Distress Mindfulness Resistance Schizophrenia

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Madani M, Hossein Sabet F, Borjali A. The Effect of Attentional Avoidance, Attentional Focusing, and Mindfulness on the Frequency of Voice-Hearing and Associated Distress in People with Schizophrenia: A Randomized Controlled trial. Iran J Psychiatry. 2023;18(2):108-118.